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October 7, 2008

Pt 1: Afghanistan and The Election - The outgoing Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan says the war against the Taliban cannot be won. In an interview over the weekend, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said it was time to "lower expectations" and that NATO should focus on reducing the Taliban insurgency to a more manageable level. His pessimistic outlook has thrust Canada's own military role in Afghanistan back into the election spotlight.

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Pt 2: Cubs Curse - Going into the Major League Baseball playoffs, the Chicago Cubs had the best record in the National League.

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Pt 3: Rebranding Israel - I'd like you to pause for a moment and think about Israel. What's in your head right now probably depends on what you think of the country, it's leaders and their policies. But whatever your views of those things, I'll bet you're not thinking about life-saving medical research. And that's where Amir Gissin comes in.

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It's Tuesday, October 7th.

A Pentagon spokesperson says the United States has no plans to negotiate with the Taliban since the group spent years terrorizing Afghan society.

Currently, for the sake of consistency, the United States has cut all communications with a third of the Afghan cabinet, the top two tiers of the Pakistani intelligence corps and all surviving members of the Carter and Reagan Administrations.

This is The Current.


Afghanistan and The Election

The outgoing Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan says the war against the Taliban cannot be won. In an interview over the weekend, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said it was time to "lower expectations" and that NATO should focus on reducing the Taliban insurgency to a more manageable level. His pessimistic outlook has thrust Canada's own military role in Afghanistan back into the election spotlight.

It was seven years ago today that the United States-led coalition launched "Operation Enduring Freedom." And soon, Canadians head to the polls. So for this show, we've gathered representatives of each of the main federal parties to find out what they propose to do about our mission in Afghanistan.

Bob Rae is the Foreign Affairs Critic for the Liberal Party. He's running in Toronto Centre.

Paul Dewar is the NDP's Foreign Affairs Critic. He's running in Ottawa Centre.

We should mention that The Current did put in requests to Conservative David Emerson, who prior to the election call was Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as to Conservative Peter Mackay who was Defence Minister. Both of their offices told us they would not be available to appear on our program.

That said, someone who did agree to come on our program is Conservative Senator Hugh Segal. He was in Kingston, Ontario.


 

Cubs Curse

Going into the Major League Baseball playoffs, the Chicago Cubs had the best record in the National League. Then, the team crumpled and got swept in three games in the opening round. Which is pretty much exactly how a lot of Cubs fans thought things might go, their team being cursed and all. It's been a hundred years since the Cubs won the World Series. Generations of fans have come and gone. And they've chalked up one loss after another to "The Curse"- a thing of legend among Cubs fans, even if they're not altogether sure where it comes from.

"The Curse"

The curse those fans are talking about actually has to do with a goat named Murphy who was refused entry to a Cubs game back in 1945. That's the one most baseball fans know about. But according to Jim Trautman, there's another curse ... one that's not so well known. And at the centre of it is a player who will forever be known as "Bonehead" Fred Merkle.

Jim Trautman is a freelance writer and something of a "Bonehead" Merkle expert. He was in Toronto.

Now the thing about some Cubs fans is that they wear the curse like a badge of honour or even carry it like a cross. So, to help us understand why some sports teams operate on a hope, and a prayer ... AND a curse... Anna Maria was joined by Joseph Price.

He teaches in the Religious Studies Department at Whittier College. He's also the author of Rounding The Bases: Baseball and Religion in America and he was in Whittier, California.


 

Rebranding Israel

I'd like you to pause for a moment and think about Israel. What's in your head right now probably depends on what you think of the country, it's leaders and their policies. But whatever your views of those things, I'll bet you're not thinking about life-saving medical research. And that's where Amir Gissin comes in.

Israel

What Amir Gissin is describing is the first part of a campaign to change Israel's brand. The idea began two years ago in Tel Aviv when then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was speaking to a group of diplomats, public relations executives and branding specialists. She told them that Israel had a problem and that it needed to change its image abroad. Tzipi Livni is now Israel's Prime Minister designate. Her idea is now a government-backed plan. Toronto is the first target. And Amir Gissin -- Israel's Consul General in Toronto -- is with us again to tell us more.

But not all Israelis are thrilled with their government's re-branding campaign. Susan Nathan is the author of The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish-Arab Divide. She is on a North American tour and she was in Coralville, Iowa when we spoke with her.

Attempts to Rebrand

Israel isn't the first country to try to re-brand itself. So for some perspective on how Israel's efforts compare with what other countries have tried, anna Maria was joined by Edward Comor. He is a "country branding" specialist and a Professor of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. He was in London, Ontario.

Edward Comor is the author of Consumption and the Globalization Project. He teaches Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario.


Last Word:

And we'll leave you with one more thought about the cursed Chicago Cubs. This year, the team will be spending its winter exactly as it has for the past 100 years ... pining for what could have been. But Eddie Vedder still believes that one day, a World Series pennant will fly over Wrigley Field. He's the lead singer of Pearl Jam and here he is trying to rally his fellow Cubs fans with a tribute to the team.

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