Friday, June 13, 2008 | Categories: Episodes
It's Firday, June 13th.
Zimbabwean police arrested Morgan Tsvangirai for a second time as he campaigned for the country's presidential run-off election.
Currently, according to Robert Mugabe, the opposition leader now has enough frequent prisoner points so his next stay in jail is free.
This is The Current.
Just two weeks to go until the run-off vote in Zimbabwe's Presidential election, it was business as usual on June 12, 2008 for the country's police. They detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai twice. And they arrested Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and charged him with treason.
Zimbabwe Run-Off Election
Year of the Potato
UN Food and Agricultural Organization
We heard a little ode to the potato, courtesy of comedian Cheryl Wheeler. And a timely one too since, according to the United Nations, 2008 is the International Year of The Potato. As part of our ongoing series, Diet For a Hungry Planet, we decided to look at the U.N.'s push to raise the profile and polish the image of the lowly spud. The idea is to get more people growing and eating potatoes -- tubers that address a wide range of nutritional needs and grow just about anywhere. The U.N.'s hope is that this simple act could help put a dent in rising food prices and a growing global food shortage.
Joining us from Rome was NeBambi Lutaladio, who coordinatined the International Year of The Potato. He's also a roots and tubers specialist with the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization.
We heard an account written by British magistrate Nicholas Cummins on Christmas eve in 1846, after a visit to Skibbereen in County Cork. By that time the crop that had once sustained a nation had succumbed to disease. The Irish potato famine was full blown.
The world's relationship with the potato is long and not always pleasant, but one way or other the potato has been front-and-centre through several centuries of global history. John Reader traced that history in his book, Propitious Esculent: The Potato in World History. He's in London, England.
Listen to Part Two:
Mexican Union Leader
Napoleon Gomez Urrutia
These are difficult times for the mining industry in Mexico. Over the last few years, strikes have cost the industry billions of dollars. In June 2008 alone, more than 2,000 workers at three mines were in the midst of a protracted dispute with the country's largest mining company, Grupo Mexico.
In May 2008, workers there staged a one-day strike and showed signs of gearing up for another one.
The name those miners were chanting is "Napoleon:" Napoleon Gomez Urrutia. He says he's the legitimate leader of the National Miners and Metalworkers Union of Mexico. But he's running the union via cell phone and video link from Vancouver. That's because he's worried about landing in jail -- or worse -- if he goes back to Mexico. The Mexican Government has charged him with fraud and wants Canada to extradite him. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia says the charges are trumped up and that he's being sidelined by powerful interests. He joined us from our Vancouver studio.
Other unions across the Americas -- including some from Canada -- are rallying to support Napoleon Gomez Urrutia. One group of miners from Peru set their support to music.
Last Word - Synchotrons
In early June 2008, a group of scientists gathered in Saskatoon to compare notes about their work on "synchrotrons." These are kind of like high-tech microscopes. They fine-tune beams of light, allowing scientists to "see" the chemistry of a given sample. Work has begun on a synchrotron for the Middle East, a region better known for its violence than its science.
What's interesting are the countries involved: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey; a group you'd likely never see cooperating in any other way, so some of the scientists involved are calling it "Project Sesame" in the hope that it will open a door to better communication and understanding as well as scientific innovation.
We closed this episode with some thoughts on the project from the meeting in Saskatoon.
Listen to Part Three: