CBCradio

February 12, 2009

Pt 1: Sri Lankan Widow - A little over a month ago, Lasantha Wickramatunga was on his way to work in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Just minutes from his office, he was stopped by four men on military-style motorcycles. They smashed through the window of his car and beat him severely. He died several hours later.

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Pt 2: Recession and Recycling - For those of you who have blue box programs... you probably don't give much thought to what happens to all your recyclables once they've been picked up from the curb. So what you may not know is that all your pop cans, cereal boxes and milk cartons are commodities, raw materials in an economy built on buying and selling stuff that most of us still think of as garbage. In good times, it's a thriving industry. But the recession has hit hard. And like many commodities, the price of recyclable materials is tanking - by as much as 98 per cent in some cases.

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Pt 3: Letters- Our Friday host Sheila Coles joined Anna Maria Tremonti from Regina for our weekly look at the mail.

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It's Thursday, February 12th

The 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, who popularized the theory of evolution.

Currently, the day will be marked by protests from groups who don't believe in evolution, including creationists and the National Hockey League.

This is the Current.


Sri Lankan Widow

A little over a month ago, Lasantha Wickramatunga was on his way to work in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Just minutes from his office, he was stopped by four men on military-style motorcycles. They smashed through the window of his car and beat him severely. He died several hours later.

Lasantha Wickramatunga was the high-profile editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper, The Sunday Leader. He had a long history of questioning the Sri Lankan Government. His death sent shockwaves across the country. And it sent other Sri Lankan journalists fleeing for their lives. Many of them had been worried about their safety for some time. And for many of them, his death sent a clear message -- they would not be safe in Sri Lanka if they criticized the government.

One of the journalists who fled Sri Lanka was Sonali Samarasinghe- Wickramatunga. She is Lasantha Wickramatunga's widow and a celebrated journalist in her own right who has earned accolades for exposing corruption in Sri Lanka.

She is currently in hiding at an undisclosed location. But we were able to reach her for the show.

 

Recession and Recycling

Municipal Waste Association

For those of you who have blue box programs... you probably don't give much thought to what happens to all your recyclables once they've been picked up from the curb. So what you may not know is that all your pop cans, cereal boxes and milk cartons are commodities, raw materials in an economy built on buying and selling stuff that most of us still think of as garbage. In good times, it's a thriving industry. But the recession has hit hard. And like many commodities, the price of recyclable materials is tanking - by as much as 98 per cent in some cases.

And for people like Brian Dodd that's a big problem. He's the Executive Director of a not-for-profit group called United We Can. The group runs a recycling depot in downtown Vancouver.

For an explanation of why the value of recyclable materials have been sinking and how the recycling economy works, we're joined by Ben Bennett. He is the Manager of Projects and Communications with the Municipal Waste Association. That's a not-for-profit organization that works with municipalities to improve their recycling and waste diversion programs. He joined us in our Toronto studio.

Toronto Environmental Alliance

So the prices for recyclable materials are dropping. And that means fewer companies are buying reusable materials. But all that stuff still has to go somewhere. And that makes people like Katrina Miller very worried. She's the Campaigns Director for the Toronto Environmental Alliance and she was in our Toronto studio as well.

Recycling Programs

But a lot of private companies have come to count on the help they get from municipalities when it comes to managing the materials they produce. And they're feeling the crunch now too. Derek Stephenson is the Chief Operating Officer of Steward Edge, a Canadian firm that works with companies on their stewardship and recycling programs. He was also one of the architects of Ontario's first Blue Box program and he was also in Toronto.

 

Letters Pack

Our Friday host Sheila Coles joined Anna Maria Tremonti from Regina for our weekly look at the mail.

Eskasoni First Nations

We started off the show by taking a look at Eskasoni is a small First Nations community of about 32-hundred people in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. In the last five weeks, four people there have committed suicide and over the past year there have been five more deaths related to alcohol or drugs.

Tuesday on The Current, we heard from residents of Eskasoni who are struggling with the loss and we looked for some perspective from Roland Chrisjohn. He is a psychologist who spent many years working on suicide counselling in Toronto's aboriginal community.

We also heard from two of our listeners who had intresting comments to contribute to the conversation.

Ethics of Later Age Pregnancy

Moving on to other mail. Not that long ago, it was rare to be an expectant Mom in your 40s. These days, not so much. But when 60-year-old Ranjit Hayer gave birth to twins last week in Calgary it raised a few eyebrows. Ranjit Hayer was refused invitro fertilization in Canada because of her age. So she went to India to conceive and returned to Canada to give birth. Last week on The Current, we explored the ethics of the case.

Some of are listeners contributed offering some insightful perspectives and helped further the conversation.

Tom Hannam also joined us for a short interview. He runs the Hannam Fertility Centre in Toronto.

Williamson, the Excommunicated

Twenty years ago, Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson was excommunicated from the church because he was ordained without the approval of the Pope. Three weeks ago, Swedish television broadcast an interview with Bishop Williamson. In it, he expressed some controversial views on the holocaust and Jews. We listened to a clip of those views in our letters pack.

Days after that interview aired, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth lifted the excommunication on Bishop Williamson as well as three other bishops. We talked about that decision on The Current last Wednesday.

And after our program aired, we received an email from Therese Koturbash of Dauphin, Manitoba. She is a member of the Catholic Network for Women's Equality and she reminded us that last May, women who were ordained as Catholic priests were excommunicated by the Pope.

Marie Bouclin is one of the women who was excommunicated and she joined us for the show. She was ordained in May of 2007 and we reached her in Sudbury,Ontario.

Contact us

Thanks to all of you who wrote to us. To add your thoughts to anything you hear on The Current you can e-mail us by going to our website -- cbc.ca/thecurrent -- and clicking on the "Contact Us" link. You can also call us toll-free, day or night at 1 877 287 7366. Or send us a letter to Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

Mail Call

For next weeks letters pack, we're looking for your stories of being laid-off because of the recession.

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