Thursday, May 15, 2008 | Categories: Episodes
It's Thursday, May 15th.
US President George Bush said in an interview he gave up playing golf because of the Iraq war.
Currently, the president announced in case of nuclear war he is prepared to give up playing Go Fish.
This is the Current.
The death toll from the massive earthquake that hit China on May 12, 2008 climbed to 15,000 within three days; a horrific number by any measure, but one that was expected to rise dramatically. In China's northern Sichuan province, where the 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit, tens of thousands of people were still thought to be buried beneath the rubble or otherwise missing. And hopes for their survival were quickly fading, despite more than $46 million in international aid that had been pledged to assist with China's relief efforts.
On May 14, for the first time, Chinese soldiers were able to reach Wenchuan, the remote town at the epicentre of the quake, after poor weather conditions and landslides hampered their efforts.
But it's not just the survivors the Chinese government has to worry about. It estimates the earthquake damaged nearly 400 dams, presenting the risk of catastrophic flooding downstream without urgent repairs. Some 2,000 soldiers were dispatched to plug the cracks in one of the worst-affected dams.
The CBC's Michel Cormier joined us from Beijing for the latest.
Wall-to-wall media coverage that accompanied the disaster in China.
For a closer look at the unusually open domestic and international coverage of the earthquake in Sichuan, and the implications such unfettered reporting might have for China's government, we were joined from Beijing by Wenran Jiang, director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta.
Listen to Part One:
In late 2006, British economist Nicholas Stern famously put the cost of not addressing climate change at $7 trillion to the global economy. But what about the cost of not addressing climate change and food security, water scarcity, overpopulation and poverty? Lester Brown says the cost would be human civilization itself.
Mr. Brown founded both the Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, and over the decades, he watched the world's population explode and consume with abandon, oblivious to how it's spent itself way into the red, environmentally speaking. Global warming, depleted soil and water resources, deforestation, overfishing -- humanity has pushed the very natural systems that sustain our species to the breaking point.
So Lester Brown says it's time for Plan B, and this comes with a price tag, too: a cool $190 billion per year. Plan B was first explained in Brown's book of the same name in 2003, and it detailed just what it would take to save humanity. The book was championed by the likes of Bill Clinton and Ted Turner, who bought 3 600 copies of the book to distribute to global leaders. It was updated as Plan B 2.0 in 2005, and now the latest version is out: Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.
Lester Brown joined us from Washington.
Listen to Part Two:
Burma, Letters and Last Word
As part of our coverage of the unfolding disaster in Burma, The Current spoke to Andrew Buncombe, one of the very few western journalists to report from Burma after it was devastated by Cyclone Nargis. He's the Asia correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, and he witnessed first-hand the aftermath of the disaster and the desperate need for humanitarian aid, even while the military junta rebuffs appeals to open the country to international aid. Andrew Buncombe joined us again, this time from his home in New Delhi, India.
We were joined by this week's Friday host, Duncan McCue, to look at the mail. Also joining us were Dr. Mehran Anvari, founding Director of the Centre for Minimal Access Surgery (CMAS) at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario.
Last Word -
On May 15, 1988, the Soviet Union started to withdraw more than 100,000 troops from Afghanistan. The Soviets had spent a decade fighting an Islamic insurgency against the Communist government in Kabul. Those Islamic fighters -- the mujahedeen -- were backed by the US.
Soviet officials refused to acknowledge the departure as a retreat, but Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev did refer to the war as a"bleeding wound." It was the first time the Soviets had abandoned a Communist ally, and some consider it the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.
We closed this episode with a CBC news report from Afghanistan on May 15th, 1988.
Listen to Part Three: