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January 06, 2009

Pt 1: Canadian Soldier Charged - The new year has brought fresh controversy over Canada's mission in Afghanistan. Last week, Captain Robert Semrau -- a Canadian soldier -- was charged with second degree murder. He's alleged to have shot-to-death an unarmed Afghan man "on or about" October 19th. The incident is alleged to have happened during a fierce gunfight between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan National Army in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

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Pt 2: Vanuatu Doc - The Threatening Sea - Consider the conundrum of climatge change on, what to us up here, is the bottom of the world. Yesterday, The Current's Kathleen Goldhar told us about the decade-long drought that has been threatening Australia ... the longest drought on record and one that is having a profound impact on the country.

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Pt 3: Obama/Bush in Africa: AIDS Activist - In two weeks, US President George Bush will leave the White House and return to Crawford, Texas. He's leaving with the lowest approval rating of any outgoing President in recent memory. But if President Bush is looking for a bright spot in his foreign policy legacy, he might just find it in Africa.

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It's Tuesday, January 6th.

U.S. President George Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy both emphatically stated they want a ceasefire in the Gaza strip as soon as possible.

Currently, and if the fighting continues, the U.S. and France say they'll show how serious they are ... by very emphatically re-stating they want a ceasefire as soon as possible.

This is the Current.


Canadian Soldier Charged - Reporter

The new year has brought fresh controversy over Canada's mission in Afghanistan. Last week, Captain Robert Semrau -- a Canadian soldier -- was charged with second degree murder. He's alleged to have shot-to-death an unarmed Afghan man "on or about" October 19th. The incident is alleged to have happened during a fierce gunfight between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan National Army in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

Captain Semrau was one of about 30 Canadian members of what's called the the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team who were fighting alongside the Afghan soldiers. The OMLT's mission is to train the Afghan army in proper military procedures and fighting techniques.

Captain Semrau's case raises many questions, not the least of which is why it took two months for the Canadian military to launch an investigation. But the most pressing question is what exactly happened on that day back in late October. To help fill in some of the blanks, we were joined by Graeme Smith. He's The Globe and Mail's Afghanistan correspondent and he's in Toronto.


Canadian Soldier Charged - Panel

Shortly before Captain Semrau left for the operation in Lashkar Gar, he was interviewed for a U.S. Army-affiliated website and asked about the upcoming mission. We aired an excerpt of Captain Rob Semrau being interviewed shortly after he left for an operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province in October. Captain Semrau is now being held by military police at CFB Petawawa, where he will attend the military equivalent of a bail hearing today.

For their perspective on the this, we were joined by Michel Drapeau. He's a retired Canadian forces Colonel and a lawyer specializing in the military. And Scott Taylor is a former Canadian soldier and the Publisher of Esprit de Corp magazine. They were both in Ottawa.

 

Vanuatu Doc - The Threatening Sea

Consider the conundrum of climatge change on, what to us up here, is the bottom of the world. Yesterday, The Current's Kathleen Goldhar told us about the decade-long drought that has been threatening Australia ... the longest drought on record and one that is having a profound impact on the country.

Australia's problems stand in stark contrast to what the people of Vanuatu face. They have too much water. Vanuatu is a nation of 83 islands in the South Pacific ... about a three hour plane ride from Sydney. A line of lush vegetation along the coast circles volcanic ridges and uplands on most of the islands. And it's in that ring of green -- close to the ocean -- where most people live.

But the sea levels are rising, the islands are sinking ... And the future for the people of Vanuatu looks bleak. As part of our on-going series on water issues called "Watershed," Kathleen Goldhar went to Vanuatu and she joined us again this morning.

The documentary, "The Threatening Sea" was produced by The Current's Kathleen Goldhar.

 

Obama/Bush in Africa: AIDS Activist

In two weeks, US President George Bush will leave the White House and return to Crawford, Texas. He's leaving with the lowest approval rating of any outgoing President in recent memory. But if President Bush is looking for a bright spot in his foreign policy legacy, he might just find it in Africa. Even his critics acknowledge that President Bush has emerged as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS on the continent. It's something Agnes Binagwaho has seen first hand. She's a doctor in Rwanda who has been at the forefront of a campaign against HIV/AIDS in her country. She's now the Permanent Secretary for Rwanda's Ministry of Health and she was in Kigali.


Obama/Bush in Africa - Critic

But not everyone agrees that President Bush's legacy in Africa is quite so clear ... especially when you consider things beyond the fight against HIV/AIDS. Andrew Mwenda is the Managing Editor of the Ugandan Weekly news magazine, The Independent and he was in Kampala.


Music Bridge

Artist: The Bills
Cut: CD 8 "The Traveller"
CD: "Let em Run"
Label: Borealis Records
Spine #: BCD164


Doc Promo - Mullins-Johnson

We've got a little preview of a story you can hear tomorrow on The Current ... a story about Paul Johnson and his younger brother Bill. They were tight growing up in Sault Saint Marie, Ontario. That all changed on June 27, 1993 ... the day Paul woke up to find his four-year-old daughter Valin dead in her bed. By the end of that day, Bill Mullins-Johnson was in jail, charged with sexually assaulting and murdering his niece. Bill always swore that he had nothing to do with her death. And slowly, over time, he came to suspect that his brother Paul -- Valin's father -- was responsible. We aired a clip of the two brothers describing the day Bill was convicted.

Tomorrow, The Current's John Chipman will have an hour-long documentary about two brothers who were turned against each other over a crime neither of them committed. It's called "A Death in The Family" and you can hear it tomorrow on The Current.


Last Word

But before we go ... earlier this half hour we heard from Agnes Binagwaho. She's Rwanda's Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health. She was talking about U.S. President George Bush's legacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. And we ended the program with one more thought on the subject. This is the New Hope Squad, a hip hop group from Uganda with their song "It's Never Too Late to Fight AIDS."

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