April 16, 2010

Pt 1: Jaffer/Guergis Affair - The scandal over the allegations against Conservative MP Helena Guergis and her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer continue to swirl in Ottawa. And there are signs that they are starting to hurt the governing Conservatives. According to a new poll from EKOS Research, support for the Conservatives has dropped slightly in the last week. (Read More)

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Pt 2: The Eerie Silence - After a half-century of looking, SETI - Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligene - is thinking of re-setting its sights in the search for intelligent life in the universe. (Read More)

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Pt 3: Wikileaks: A new twist in the battle for hearts and minds. A leaked document suggests that the CIA has considered the idea of "manipulating public opinion" in other countries ... all in a bid to build support for the war in Afghanistan. (Read More) 

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

Today's guest host was Gillian Findlay.

It's Friday April 16th

The new President of Kyrgyzstan says the ousted President must stand trial for the killing of protestors last week.

Currently, And to prove she is serious, her government has already sent an international money order to Quebec City for a judge.

This is The Current.

Jaffer/Guergis Affair: Donovan & Rae

Another day, another potentially damning allegation. The Helena Geurgis saga just doesn't seem to quiet. This morning The Toronto Star news paper has yet another exclusive: this time a letter, on the former cabinet minister's parliamentary letterhead. It's addressed to her cousin - at the time the top municipal politician in the Ontario county of Simcoe. It promotes a green energy company and asks the county to consider it's alternative waste technology.

For more on the latest revelation in the Helena Guergis/Rahim Jaffer scandal we reached Kevin Donovan. He is the investigative editor and a senior reporter for the Toronto Star who broke the story. Kevin Donovan was at his home in Toronto. And Bob Rae is the Liberal MP for Toronto Centre. He's also the party's foreign affairs critic. He was in our Toronto studio.

The Current has put in a request to the Prime Minister's office for anyone from the government, either an MP or an official to comment on this matter this morning, the PMO has declined our request.

Jaffer/Guergis Affair: Panel

For some perspective on the political fallout from the Guergis-Jaffer saga, we were joined by two people. Susan Delacourt is the senior political reporter with the Toronto Star. And Don Martin is a columnist with the National Post and the Calgary Herald. They were both in Ottawa.


Jaffer/Guergis Affair: Panel (cont'd)

We continued our discussion on the Jaffer/Guerigs affair with our guests, Susan Delacourt and Don Martin.

The Eerie Silence

Fifty years ago, a man named Francis Drake pointed a radio telescope at a star and started listening for aliens. Five decades on, scientists at the SETI project -- the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence -- are still listening. And all they're getting back, is silence.

The possible reasons for radio silence stretch on just about as far as the universe that those radios are tuned to. Maybe alien life doesn't communicate on the frequencies we're familiar with. Maybe we just haven't pointed the radios in the right place yet. Maybe they can't talk. Maybe they don't want to talk. Or maybe there's really nothing out there but a bunch of rocks.

But Paul Davies thinks there's another possibility. He thinks that maybe, we're not looking in the right place. He's a theoretical physicist, a cosmologist and an astrobiologist. He's also the chair of SETI's Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup and the author of The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in The Universe? Paul Davies was in New York City.


Wikileaks: Daniel Schmitt

We started this segment with a clip of Defense Minister Peter MacKay speaking in the House of Commons yesterday. He was responding to questions about new testimony about the issue of Afghan detainees.

The testimony came from Ahmadshah Malgarai, an Afghan-Canadian translator who worked for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. In his testimony, he said that Canadian soldiers would hand detainees over to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security and that the NDS would often abuse or torture them. Ahmadshah Malgarai also accused Canadian soldiers of killing an Afghan teenager and trying to cover it up.

General Walt Natynczyk -- Canada's Chief of Defense Staff -- says the military will investigate the allegations. But so far, the Federal Government has refused to call a public inquiry. Allegations like those have an impact on public support for the mission in Afghanistan.

According to Daniel Schmitt, that's something the CIA is paying close attention to. He's one of the longest serving members of WikiLeaks, a group that specializes in revealing information that governments would rather keep quiet. Recently, the group acquired a leaked CIA report that outlines strategies for "manipulating public opinion" in France and Germany. Daniel Schmitt was in Berlin.

Wikileaks: Panel

For some perspective on the kinds of public relations campaigns governments engage in and whether or not they work, we're joined by two people. Elly Alboim is a public relations strategist at the lobby firm Earnscliffe Strategy Group. He also teaches journalism at Carleton University and he was in Ottawa. And retired Colonel Brian MacDonald is the Senior Defence Analyst for the Conference of Defence Associations. That's an advocacy group funded in part by the Department of National Defence. He was in Toronto.

Last Word: Josh Stieber

We wanted to end the program this week with one more thought about WikiLeaks. As we mentioned, the group really came to prominence last week, when it released a classified U.S. military video. The video shows American soldiers in helicopters killing Iraqis as if they were playing a video game. Among the 12 people killed in the incident were two Reuters journalists as well as unarmed men who were rescuing the wounded.

Josh Stieber is a soldier in the same company as the soldiers who are in the video. He wasn't on that mission. And he says he left the Army after witnessing one too many incidents like the one in the video. We gave him the last word today. And you can find the video you're hearing at wikileaks.org.

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