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Pt 2: Chavez Retrospective - We started this segment with a clip of Hugo Chavez being sworn-in as the President of Venezuela on February 2nd, 1999. And for those of you who don't understand Spanish ... here's what he said. Quote "On this all-but-dead Constitution I swear to push for the necessary democratic transformations" end quote.
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Pt 3: Obama and the Muslim World - Last week, Barack Obama surprised a lot of people by granting his first television interview as President of the United States to the Arabic network Al-Arabiya. In it, he spelled out a plan to build a better relationship with the Arab and Muslim worlds. He even cited his own personal connections to Islam.
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It's Monday, February 2nd.
Canada's Gross Domestic Product fell by 0.7 percent in November.
Currently, StatsCan also reports that the Hysterical Media Coverage Index shot up more than 200 percent.
This is the Current.
Municipalitt's Budget Woes
Last week, the federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced a budget that included 12-Billion-dollars in new infrastructure funding over the next two years. That's the kind of news that should have had mayors all over the country dancing in their pot-hole ridden streets. Instead, many of them have spent the last week asking some rather cautious questions and looking suspiciously at the fine print.
Their reactions speak to the level of distrust that has evolved among municipal politicians, many of whom feel besieged by the challenges facing their cities and unconvinced that either the Federal or Provincial governments are serious about helping them.
So The Current headed over to Toronto's Metro Hall and asked three municipal workers there what they thought were the biggest challenges facing their city. We aired a brief clip.
And to tell us how they are coping, we were joined by three mayors. David Miller is the Mayor of Toronto and he was in our Toronto studio. Dennis "Doc" O'Keefe is the mayor of St. John's and he was in St. John's. And Dianne Watts is the Mayor of Surrey, British Columbia. But she was in Regina this morning.
Chavez Retrospective: Jon Lee Anderson
We started this segment with a clip of Hugo Chavez being sworn-in as the President of Venezuela on February 2nd, 1999. And for those of you who don't understand Spanish ... here's what he said. Quote "On this all-but-dead Constitution I swear to push for the necessary democratic transformations" end quote.
For Venezuela's traditional political class, it was a slap in the face. And it turned out to be the beginning of the end of politics-as-usual in Venezuela. Within a year, the country had a newly-elected Constituent Assembly, a new Constitution and a new name -- The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, named after the 19th Century Liberator Simon Bolivar. All of those changes were approved by a popular referendum. But that didn't stop Chavez' critics -- and there were plenty -- from accusing him of tyranny.
In North America, Chavez is best known for his fiercely adversarial relationship with the former U.S. President George Bush and his distinct lack of subtlety in discussing the matter. A decade after he first took office, Hugo Chavez is still one of the most divisive political figures in the world, a man some see as a saviour and others call a despot. And he still might have the chance to hold onto power a little longer.
On February 15th a referendum will be held in Venezuela on whether to allow Hugo Chavez to stay on as President as long as he's able to keep winning elections.
So to take stock of the last ten years and to get a better sense of Hugo Chavez, we were joined by Jon Lee Anderson. He is a biographer, an investigative reporter and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. He is also a longtime observer of Latin American politics and he was in Dorchester, England.
Obama and the Muslim World
Last week, Barack Obama surprised a lot of people by granting his first television interview as President of the United States to the Arabic network Al-Arabiya. In it, he spelled out a plan to build a better relationship with the Arab and Muslim worlds. He even cited his own personal connections to Islam.
So this morning, we're asking whether President Obama's words are ringing true to the people he's courting. And for their thoughts, we've gathered three people with three different perspectives for that world.
Hafez Al-Mirazi is the Host of the talk show "Eye on America" on Al Hayat Television in Egypt. He is also the Former Washington Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera and he was in Cairo. Farzaneh Roostaee is the Foreign Editor of Etemad, a popular reformist newspaper in Iran. She was in Tehran. And Nidal Al Mughrabi is the Gaza correspondent for the Reuters news agency. He was in Gaza City.
Last Word - Chavez
But before we go ... Earlier in the program, we took stock of Hugo Chavez, ten years after he was sworn in as the President of Venezuela. Now it's no secret that the Bush Administration didn't think very highly of President Chavez. But when he paid a visit to the South Bronx in New York City back in September of 2005 ... Hugo Chavez was welcomed like a king. And a key part of the welcoming committee was a group called The Welfare Poets ... a collective of activists, artists and musicians. We ended the program with their performance from that day.