CBCradio

April 29, 2009

Pt 1: Dread and Epidemics - In the face of a new strain of influenza, the sense of urgency, fear and even panic is palpable. California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a State of Emergency. Canada's Public Health Agency is advising people to postpone all non-essential travel to Mexico.

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Pt 2: 100 Days - We started this segment with a clip of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking 100 days ago. In his inauguration speech, he promised a new future ... not just for the United States, but for the world. And the world was riveted. One hundred days later, the world is still watching but people are also taking stock of how well President Obama is doing when it comes to delivering on what he promised.

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Pt 3: Portugal Drug Decriminalization - Ten years ago, Portugal had a serious drug problem. Throughout the 1990s, just about every indicator from the rate of drug use, to drug-related crime, to sexually transmitted diseases was pointing the wrong way. But instead of responding with more arrests or harsher penalties for drug traffickers, the Portuguese Government decided to decriminalize drugs including so-called hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. At the time, critics predicted an explosion in drug use and all of the social problems that go with it.

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It's Wed April 29th.

Israel's health minister says the outbreak of swine flu should be renamed "Mexican" influenza in deference to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork.

Currently, Mexican officials say they're too preoccupied dealing with their people's sensitivities to death.

This is The Current.

Dread and Epidemics

In the face of a new strain of influenza, the sense of urgency, fear and even panic is palpable. California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a State of Emergency. Canada's Public Health Agency is advising people to postpone all non-essential travel to Mexico.

And yesterday, several prominent vacation and travel companies including Carnival Cruise Lines, Air Transat, Sunquest Vacations, Air Canada and Westjet suspended their operations in or to Mexico. In Mexico, 159 deaths are being linked to swine flu. There are 13 confirmed cases in Canada and 65 in the United States.

Yesterday, officials in Alberta and Ontario reported the first cases in those provinces. And this morning officials in Texas confirmed their first death in the U.S. from swine flu involving a 23-month old child.

According to Philip Alcabes, fear has always been a crucial factor in how epidemics work. He's an associate professor of Urban Public Health at Hunter College at the City University of New York. His new book is called Dread: How Fear and Fantasy Have Fueled Epidemics from The Black Death to Avian Flu. And Philip Alcabes was in New York City.


 

100 Days

We started this segment with a clip of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking 100 days ago. In his inauguration speech, he promised a new future ... not just for the United States, but for the world. And the world was riveted. One hundred days later, the world is still watching but people are also taking stock of how well President Obama is doing when it comes to delivering on what he promised.

For their thoughts on Barack Obama's first 100 days in office, we were joined by Patricia De Gennaro. She is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute and a professor of Global Affairs at New York University. She was in New York City.

Salim Muwakkil is a Senior Editor for In These Times magazine. He's also the Crime and Communities Media Fellow at the Open Society Institute and he was in Chicago.

And Mark Updegrove is the author of Baptism By Fire: Eight Presidents Who Took Office in Times of Crisis. He was in Charleston, South Carolina.


 

Portugal Drug Decriminalization

Ten years ago, Portugal had a serious drug problem. Throughout the 1990s, just about every indicator from the rate of drug use, to drug-related crime, to sexually transmitted diseases was pointing the wrong way. But instead of responding with more arrests or harsher penalties for drug traffickers, the Portuguese Government decided to decriminalize drugs including so-called hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. At the time, critics predicted an explosion in drug use and all of the social problems that go with it.

But according to Glenn Greenwald, decriminalization has worked in Portugal and it might work elsewhere too. He is a constitutional lawyer and the author of a new report for the American think-tank, The Cato Institute. The report is called "Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies." And Glenn Greenwald was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Last Word - 100 Days

Stay with us on CBC Radio One. Q is next. And later on The Point, host Aamer Haleem is asking if there should be drug testing in high schools. The Point is at 2 o'clock -- 2:30 in Newfoundland and parts of Labrador. And during the hockey playoffs, you can always catch The National at 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock Eastern Time on CBC Newsworld.

But before we go ... Today marks U.S. President Barack Obama's 100th day in office. Earlier in the program, we heard some thoughts about how he's doing so far. So we ended the program this morning with a different take on faith, delivery and disillusionment after 100 days. A song by Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings called 100 Days, 100 Nights.


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