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Pt 2: Broadband Access - Google is looking for communities to test its new super-high-speed broadband network. And mid-sized American cities are doing whatever they can to make sure they're on the list.
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Pt 3: Teaching History - The Texas Board of Education is re-writing its history books. And that could have profound implications for what is taught in classrooms all over the United States and maybe even in Canada.
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Today's guest host was Jim Brown.
It's Wednesday, March 24th.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that if Palestinians refuse to drop their demand for a freeze on Israeli settlements, peace talks could be delayed by another year.
Currently, At that point, the Palestinians can just have whatever land is left.
This is The Current.
War on Drugs - Eugene Oscapella
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in Mexico City yesterday. She was heading up a series of high-level meetings with representatives of the Mexican Government ... meetings aimed at crafting a united strategy to deal with the spiraling drug-related violence in border cities such as Ciudad Juarez and Reynosa. There are already 9,000 Mexican police officers and soldiers stationed in the area. But the violence isn't going away.
Earlier this month, two U.S. Consular workers were shot-to-death in Ciudad Juarez. And as you might have heard on The Current last week, there is a defacto news black-out in Reynosa because journalists there are too scared to report on the drug cartels.
After we aired our segment last week, we heard from Eugene Oscapella. He's a criminologist at the University of Ottawa and the founder of the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy. And he made the case that there's an elephant in the room that no one is addressing. Eugene Oscapella was in Ottawa.
War on Drugs - Evan Wood
Yesterday, the Urban Health Research Initiative at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV-AIDS released new research about the relationship between police crackdowns and drug violence. Evan Wood is the initiative's Co-Director. He's also the co-author of the new report called, Effect of Drug Law Enforcement on Drug-Related Violence: Evidence from a Scientific Review. He was in Vancouver.
War on Drugs - Jeanette Hay
Jeanette Hay has a different view of the relationship between police crackdowns and drug-violence. She is a board member with the Drug Prevention Network of Canada. She's also a former drug addict and she was in Toronto.
Broadband Access - Kelly Kirschner
Several American cities are trying very hard to get Google's attention right now. That's because Google is looking for mid-sized cities to test Google Fibre, its new ultra-high-speed broadband network. The company says the new network could move information at speeds of one gigabit per second. That's about a hundred times faster than most high-speed connections.
And the roll-out would happen much faster than the U.S. Government's National Broadband Plan. So cities are pulling out all the stops. Topeka, Kansas has renamed itself "Google, Kansas" for the month of March. Duluth, Minnesota has promised to name two children born there "Google" and "Googlette" Fibre. And it's calling in some big names for backup.
Sarasota, Florida is also in the running to be one of Google Fibre's test communities. Kelly Kirschner is Sarasota's Vice Mayor and he joined us from Sarasota, Florida.
Broadband Access - George Reid
The competition for Google Fibre doesn't extend into Canada. But there is money available here for communities that want to expand their communications infrastructure. Last fall, as part of its Economic Stimulus Plan, the Federal Government announced a rural broadband initiative that would cover half of the one-time costs for approved projects.
And 570 applications later, Industry Canada admited that it was being overwhelmed by demand. It has had to delay announcing the successful recipients until later this spring. George Reid was one of the people who applied for funding. He's the Chair of the Burgeo Broadcasting System. It's a tiny, community-run internet and television provider in Burgeo, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Broadband Access - Tony Clement
When it comes to communications and connectivity, Canada doesn't compare very well with other countries. We rank 21st on the Information Communication Technology Development Index. Among other things, it measures high-speed Internet access and use. And we rank 25th among OECD countries when it comes to the speed of our high-speed connections.
On the upside, we rank second in the OECD when it comes to the cost of high-speed Internet access. Tony Clement is the Federal Industry Minister, the minister responsible for Canada's communication infrastructure. He was in Ottawa.
Broadband Access - Michael Geist
For his thoughts on Canada's communications infrastructure, we were joined by Michael Geist. He's the Canada Research Chair for Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. But he was in Regina this morning.
Teaching History - Texas Board of Education
Okay, it's quiz time. What do Thomas Jefferson and Snoop Dog have in common? They're both going to be featured a lot less prominently in history text-books in Texas. The Texas Board of Education is planning some pretty sweeping changes to the way history is taught in the state. Earlier this month, the board -- which is populated heavily by conservative Republicans -- voted in favour of more than 100 amendments to the state's curriculum standards.
Many of the changes are politically loaded. Former Republican House leader Newt Gingrich will get prominent billing. So will Stonewall Jackson, a Confederate General in the U.S. Civil War. But Mexican American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez will be downplayed ... along with the cultural importance of hip hop. And the thing about Texas is that it's big enough -- and it has so much text-book-buying clout -- that when it makes changes like these, it can affect the way history is taught all over the United States and maybe even Canada.
Mary Helen Berlanga is a lawyer and a member of the Texas Board of Education. And she was in Corpus Christi. Don McLeroy is also a member of the Texas Board of Education. He was in Bryan, Texas.
Teaching History - Megan BolerWe started this segment with a clip of Comedy Central's righteous satirist Stephen Colbert. And he too has waded into the Texas School Board controversy.
As mentioned, Texas has a huge influence on the text book industry. It's second only to California in the number of books it buys. And many text book publishers produce books that comply with Texas standards ... even if they're sold outside the state. And that makes Megan Boler very nervous. She's a professor in the History and Philosophy of Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She was born in the United States and now lives in Toronto.
Last Word - Texas Sidestep
We ended the program today with a look at the rough-and-tumble world of Texas politics. In 1982, Hollywood took a tongue-in-cheek look at the morals and politics in the Lone Star State. From the movie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, we aired Charles Durning singing The Sidestep.
Artist: Charles Durning
Cd: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Soundtrack
Cut: 10, The Sidestep
Spine: MCA 6112