October 20, 2008

Pt 1: Poisoned Lawyer - Later today, French Police may say whether they believe a Russian lawyer was poisoned in the French city of Strasbourg last week. But that's just the beginning of the intrigue. The lawyer in question is Karinna Moskalenko. She was representing the family of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and one of the most scathing critics of Vladimir Putin until she was shot to death in Moscow two years ago.

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Pt 2: Dead Zones - Just before the Beijing Summer Games opened in August, it looked as though the Olympic motto for sailing would be "thicker, greener, slimier."

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Pt 3: Contact Charlie - Seven years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is still a dangerous and unstable place. But according to Chris Wattie, if it hadn't been for a company of Canadian soldiers, things could have been much worse.

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It's Monday, October 20th.

Stephane Dion is expected to announce his resignation at 2pm Eastern today.

Currently, out of respect for Dion's integrity and dedication to the party, Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff will wait until 2:08 to begin poaching his fundraisers.

This is The Current.


Poisoned Lawyer

Later today, French Police may say whether they believe a Russian lawyer was poisoned in the French city of Strasbourg last week. But that's just the beginning of the intrigue. The lawyer in question is Karinna Moskalenko. She was representing the family of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist and one of the most scathing critics of Vladimir Putin until she was shot to death in Moscow two years ago.

Ms. Moskalenko also represents Mikhail Khordokovsky, the one-time Russian billionaire who is now in a Siberian jail, some say, for challenging Vladimir Putin's power. And since Ms. Moskalenko isn't the first of Putin's critics to find themselves with sudden and inexplicable health problems, the case has once again raised serious concerns about the state of democracy and freedom in Russia.

Robert Amsterdam is a Canadian lawyer who has worked with Karinna Moskalenko on the Khordokovsky case. He was in New York City.


Putin's Labyrinth

Anna Politkovskaya was killed on October 7th, 2006. Her death was a shocking event, even though political murder had already become an all-too-common event in Russia. And her funeral became a rallying point for the causes she had championed.

The sheer number of Russian journalists, opposition activists and lawyers who have ended up jailed, poisoned or dead has raised some uncomfortable questions about where exactly Vladimir Putin is taking Russia. Steve Levine has a few ideas about that. He's the author of Putin's Labyrinth: Spies, Murder and The Dark Heart of The New Russia and he was in Los Angeles.


 

Dead Zones

Just before the Beijing Summer Games opened in August, it looked as though the Olympic motto for sailing would be "thicker, greener, slimier."

That report from the National Geographic channel may well have been the first image many people had ever seen of an algae bloom, a plush carpet of slimy green muck weighing heavily on the water's surface.

There's an abundance of life in algae blooms, but it can be life run amok. And it can lead to dead zones parts of the ocean, or freshwater lakes, where the water has been stripped of oxygen and life has fled. The most notorious dead zone is in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas. But that's just one of more than 400 dead zones in the world. And that number is growing rapidly.

As part of our on-going look at global water issues called Watershed, we're going to look at where those dead zones come and whether there's anything to be done to reverse their progress.

Alanna Mitchell has been studying dead zones lately. She's the author of Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hot Spots. She also writes about dead zones in Seasick, an upcoming book that assesses the state of the global ocean. She was in our Toronto studio.

Dead Zone - Canada

Here in Canada, freshwater lakes such as Lake Erie have had persistent dead zones for years. Others -- like Lake Winnipeg for example -- haven't gotten to that stage yet. But they have spectacular algae blooms.
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A few lakeside residents describing the state of Lake Winnipeg, two years ago.
Greg McCullough is a researcher with the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Manitoba. He uses satellite imagery to track algae blooms on Lake Winnipeg and he was in Winnipeg.


 

Contact Charlie

Seven years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is still a dangerous and unstable place. But according to Chris Wattie, if it hadn't been for a company of Canadian soldiers, things could have been much worse. Back in the summer of 2006, the United States was handing over control of the Afghanistan mission to NATO and the Taliban saw an opportunity to strike at the coalition and maybe damage it permanently. The only thing standing in its way were the Canadian soldiers who had just moved into the southern province of Kandahar and were about to launch an offensive of their own, their first since the Korean War.

Chris Wattie is the author of a new book about that summer offensive. It's called Contact Charlie: The Canadian Army, The Taliban and The Battle That Saved Afghanistan. Chris Wattie was in Toronto.

Last Word

For our last word, we had one more thought about Anna Politkovskaya, the award-winning Russian journalist who was murdered in Moscow two years ago. Before she was killed, she received numerous death threats. She was also poisoned and subjected to a mock execution. But she continued to write extensively about the Russian Government's war in Chechnya. After she was killed, a group of Finnish musicians got together to record a song in her memory. The proceeds go to support human rights in Chechnya.

We'll left you with that song this morning. It's called In the Beginning of a New Era. It's sung in Finnish and we heard a bit of it here.


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