May 18, 2010

Pt 1: Thailand Protests - The Thai Government and the leaders of the rebel Red Shirt protesters are talking directly for the first time amidst on-going violence and social unrest that has killed 37 people in the capital Bangkok. Anna Maria Tremonti talks to Canadian journalist Michael McAuliffe to get the latest on the situation. And we look at the politics underlying the conflict. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Cellphone Study - The largest study ever conducted about the relationship between cellphones and brain cancer is being published today. We find out what it says. (Read More)

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Pt 3: The Global Forest - The potentially powerful and altogether untapped healing properties of trees. We all know trees give us oxygen, food and fuel. But according to Diana Beresford-Kroeger, some of them -- the Hawthorn for example -- have powerful healing properties. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Tuesday, May 18th.

A 10 year study of cell phones and brain tumours cannot conclusively say if usage poses any serious health risks.

Currently, but sexting causes blindness.

This is The Current.

Thailand Protests - Michael McAuliffe

Bangkok is on tenterhooks today. After five days of bloody confrontations between Thailand's government and so-called "Red Shirt" protesters, the government has issued an ultimatum -- stand down peacefully, or be pushed out with whatever force is necessary. The government-issued deadline has come and gone without incident. And some protesters have left Bangkok's swank financial district.

But many others say they're not going to back-down without a fight. And that has many people worried about the possibility of an impending and potentially deadly showdown.

Michael McAuliffe is a Canadian reporter in Bangkok and former Asia correspondent for CBC. He lives in a no-man's land between the Red Shirt protesters and the military. And that's where we reached him today.

Thailand Protests - Thongchai Winichakul

Thailand is one of the only countries in the world with a Royal Anthem as well as a national anthem. The Royal Anthem is played at least twice-a-day on public transit in movie theatres before the movie starts, and when TV stations sign on and off for their daily programming. When it's played, people are expected to stand silently as a sign of reverence for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thailand also has some of the world's most stringent lèse majesté laws ... laws that make it a crime to "defame, insult or threaten" the King, the Queen or the heir to the throne. And yet as Thailand has descended into a severe political crisis, little has been heard from the King, a man who has in the past been credited for helping mediate the country's conflicts.

For his thoughts on where Thailand's King is in all of this, we were joined by Thongchai Winichakul. He is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was in Madison, Wisconsin.


Cellphone Study - Christopher Wild

For a lot of people, it would be hard to imagine living without a cellphone. But despite their ubiquity, nagging questions remain about what cellphones may be doing to our health. And now a much-anticipated study into the possible relationship between cellphones and brain cancer -- the largest of its kind to date -- has tried to provide some answers.

The Interphone Study took 10 years and 25-million-dollars to complete. It involved 50 researchers in 13 countries including Canada, a combined population of 488 million people. And the results just published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The study was co-ordinated by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer. Christopher Wild is the agency's Director. He was in Geneva.

Cellphone Study - Magda Havas

We asked Rogers, Bell and Telus -- three of Canada's largest cellphone providers -- for their thoughts on the Interphone Study. All three declined to comment on it.

But the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association did agree to speak to us. The association's President is former New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord. We aired a clip with what he had to say about whether we should be worried about the possibility that cellphone could increase the risk of brain cancer.

But Magda Havas has a different view of the situation. She is a professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University. She has been waiting for the results of the Interphone Study. She was in Hill City, South Dakota, this morning.

Cellphone Study - Andrea Boland

Even before the Interphone Study was released, there were people arguing that consumers should be sent a clear message to exercise caution when using cellphones. Andrea Boland is one of them. She is a Democratic member of Maine's State House of Representatives. And she's trying to get a bill passed that would place warning labels similar to the ones we see on cigarette packages, on cellphones. Andrea Boland was in Sanford, Maine.


The Global Forest - Diana Beresford-Kroeger

Tree-huggers may just want what's best for trees. But it turns out that hugging a tree might be good for the hugger too. Trees are the most visible part of an eco-system ... and the support system for a lot of the life in it. For example, we mammals wouldn't exist if it weren't for the oxygen trees provide.

But according to Diana Beresford-Kroeger, trees do a lot more than provide oxygen, food and wood. She says they have healing properties that we are just beginning to appreciate and understand even if our ancestors seemed to be aware of them thousands of years ago.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist and biochemist based in Merrickville, Ontario about an hour's drive south of Ottawa. She's also the author of The Global Forest. Diana Beresford-Kroeger was in our Toronto studio.

Last Word - Crazy Frog

We ended the program today with a very clear side effect of prolonged cellphone use ... something we touched on earlier in the program. Crazy Frog is a 3-D graphic that imitates the sound of an engine remixed to music. It was originally marketed by Jamba, a German ringtone provider.

In 2005, the Crazy Frog ringtone became so popular that the frog in question generated a number one hit single in the UK. It wasn't as popular here in Canada ... where it was known as The Annoying Thing

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