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April 17, 2008

Pt 1: Seal Hunt - The images are by now familiar: a hunter lifts a long, metal instrument over his head as he prepares to club a seal perched on an otherwise idyllic ice floe. That instrument is called a hakapik, and sealers say it's a necessary though rarely used part of their trade.

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Pt 2: Vaccines - Mumps is one of those diseases that was supposed to be on its way to disappearing, thanks to an effective vaccine and better public health management. But in 2006 and 2007 there were mumps outbreaks in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

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Pt 3: Iman Kate Update - In February 2007, The Current's producer, John Chipman, travelled to Damascus to chronicle the hardships facing the more than one million Iraqi refugees who have fled to the Syrian capital to escape the violence engulfing their country. In his documentary, John profiled a refugee named Iman Kate, a mother of 17-year-old twins named Mina and Raaed.

Read more here

It's Thursday, April 17th.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik have called for a ban on hakapiks, the spiked club used to kill seals.
Currently, from hence forth seals will only be bludgeoned with love.

This is The Current.


Seal Hunt - Banning the Hakapik

The images are by now familiar: a hunter lifts a long, metal instrument over his head as he prepares to club a seal perched on an otherwise idyllic ice floe. That instrument is called a hakapik, and sealers say it's a necessary though rarely used part of their trade.

Nonetheless, the image of the hakapik is something animal-welfare activists and other critics of Canada's seal hunt have worked very hard to place in the public consciousness. And it seems their efforts have been effective, leading the European Union to consider banning imports of all seal products that result from hunts in which the animals suffer.

Supporters of Canada's annual seal hunt say the move would seriously harm the industry, and the premiers of Nunavut and Newfoundland have tried to change the EU members' minds and regain the moral high ground by calling for a federal ban on the hakapik.

Paul Okalik is the Premier of Nunavut and joined us from Iqaluit.


Banning the Hakapik - Veterinarian

Despite calls for banning the use of the hakapik, some research suggests that it might actually offer a humane way of killing seals.

Alice Crook is the coordinator of the Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island and is also a member of the independent veterinary working group which, in 2005, wrote a report about how to make the Canadian seal hunt more humane. She joined us from Charlottetown.


Listen to Part One:

 

Vaccines - Mumps Victim

Mumps is one of those diseases that was supposed to be on its way to disappearing, thanks to an effective vaccine and better public health management. But in 2006 and 2007 there were mumps outbreaks in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

C.J. O'Brien knows firsthand how nasty mumps can be. He contracted the disease in 2006 while he was a student at the University of Iowa. He's spoke to us from Des Moines.


Future of Vaccines - Study

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control have been looking into that outbreak in Iowa, with their findings getting published in April 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Gustavo Dayan is co-author of the report and he joined us from Swiftwater, Pennsylvania.


Future of Vaccines - Public Health

Here in Canada, more than 200 cases of mumps reported during an outbreak in Nova Scotia in the spring of 2007 that was traced to students at Dalhousie University. Cases were later reported in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Alberta. To find out where Canada stands on the mumps vaccine, we were joined by Doctor Arlene King, the Director General of the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infections Division at the Public Health Agency of Canada.


Future of Vaccines - Author

This isn't the first time we've had to confront the possibility that a vaccine is no longer as effective as it once was. For some historical perspective on vaccines, we were joined from Washington by Arthur Allen, author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver.


Listen to Part Two:

 

Iman Kate Update - Reunion in Canada

In February 2007, The Current's producer, John Chipman, travelled to Damascus to chronicle the hardships facing the more than one million Iraqi refugees who have fled to the Syrian capital to escape the violence engulfing their country. In his documentary, John profiled a refugee named Iman Kate, a mother of 17-year-old twins named Mina and Raaed.

Iman had a particularly troubling story. She was Shia. Her husband, a Sunni, was murdered by Shia militants. A local custom in Iraq states that when a man dies, his family becomes the responsibility of his next of kin, so after her husband's death, Iman's brother-in-law demanded she marry him -- and her daughter marry his son. When she refused, he beat her, so Iman fled Iraq with her children.

A listener in Victoria named Heidi Bennet was so inspired by Iman's determination to build a better life for her children that she decided to help. For more than a year, Heidi Bennet and a group of friends worked to get Iman and her children resettled in Canada.

We were happy to bring good news: the Kates arrived in British Columbia in the first week of April 2008, and John Chipman was with them for their first few days in their new country.


Letters

We dipped into the mailbag with the help of this week's Friday host Hana Gartner. Also joining us from Flagstaff, Arizona was Jim Mead, a professor of geology and environmental sciences at Northern Arizona University and the custodian of one of the world's biggest collections of dung.


Last Word - Happiness For Sale

On the Monday, April 14 2008 program, we spoke to Eric Weiner, the author of The Geography of Bliss. He's a former foreign correspondent with National Public Radio in the United States, a job in which he witnessed a lot of misery. So he embarked on a world tour to find the happiest places on Earth and figure out why the people who live there are so blissed out. We closed this episode with Eric Weiner's thoughts on his travels in Qatar and his attempt to find out if money really can buy happiness.


Listen to Part Three:

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