Monday, January 12, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
It's Monday, January 12th.
Three Canadians are claiming they have set the record for the fastest trek across Antarctica to the South Pole
Currently, the three were able to jump what's left of the ice shelf down there in one-point-five seconds flat.
This Is The Current.
Red Cross in Gaza
Over the weekend Israel began the so called "third phase" of its offensive in Gaza. First, there was a week of aerial bombing. That was followed by a limited ground invasion. And as of yesterday Israeli troops are heading deeper into the Palestinian territory.
On Sunday Israeli Forces engaged in intense urban warfare as they pushed into a heavily populated area of Gaza City. As a result, Palestinian medical sources say 29 people were killed across Gaza on Sunday - 17 in Gaza City.
Since the Israeli offensive began on December 27th 13 Israelis have died -- 10 of their soldiers and three civilians. Palestinian medical authorities report that 869 Palestians have been killed. And more than 250 of them are children.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza is reaching a breaking point. And the aid workers trying to address the situation say it is increasingly difficult to do their jobs.
Yesterday the International Committee of the Red Cross announced the organization could no longer escort Palestinian ambulances in the Gaza Strip because of the danger to its drivers. The move came after one ambulance came under Israeli fire over the weekend.
Last week -- In a rare move -- the Red Cross issued a statement criticizing Israel's military for failing to meet its obligations under international humanitarian law.
Anne Sophie Bonefeld is a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross and she was in Jerusalem.
Israel Defence Forces in Gaza
For the Israeli military's perspective on the situation, we're joined now by Captain Ron Edelheit. He's a spokesman for the Israeli Defence Forces and he was in Siderot.
The story of Nortel's decline is well known to most Canadians. If you've ever bought a mutual fund, chances are you owned stock in the formerly high-flying hi-tech company. And if you did, you probably watched in horror at its dramatic stock plunge from a high of 124-dollars-a-share to less than a dollar. Since then, the company has been slicing and dicing the workforce, restructuring. And now it's restructuring again, amid rumours of bankruptcy and the possibility of selling off whole divisions. Late last year, the company announced its 16th round of layoffs since 2001. It cut another 1,300 jobs and more were shifted overseas.
The CBC's Julie Ireton has been covering the Nortel saga for almost a decade. She's had a chance to talk with a couple of Nortel employees about life in these most uncertain of times. And she joined us from Ottawa.
Year of the Gorilla
The sound of a gorilla slapping his chest is a sound that sure fits the popular image of the gorilla as a fearsome beast. But the truth is that gorillas are barely surviving. To highlight just how endangered they are, the United Nations has declared 2009, the Year of The Gorilla. There used to be thousands of mountain gorillas. Now, there are no more than 700 left in the wild. Gorilla subspecies -- such as the Cross River Gorilla and the Eastern Lowland Gorilla -- are declining dangerously.
To make matters worse, more gorillas live in the Democratic Republic of Congo -- one of the world's most violent and unstable countries -- than anywhere else on earth. The consequences of that were captured about 18 months ago by a photographer named Brent Stirton. He snapped a photograph of a massive gorilla that had been killed by a gunshot, being borne aloft on the shoulders of distraught villagers and park rangers .as if they were mourners in a funeral procession. That image was named the World Press Photo winner last year and it sparked outrage around the world at the massacre of one of humankind's closest biological relatives. Mark Jenkins is a field staff writer for National Geographic Magazine. He covered the gorilla killings with Brent Stirton. Mark Jenkins joined us from Laramie, Wyoming.
Virunga National Park
On the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern border, you'll find Virunga, the oldest national park in Africa. It was established in 1925 and it's considered one of the most important national parks in the world. It's home to the greatest number of birds, mammals and reptiles of any park in Africa as well as an incredible range of landscape and habitat. It also has between 200 and 300 of the roughly 700 remaining mountain gorillas in the world.
And it can be a very dangerous place. The Congolese Army and two rebel militias have taken their fighting to the park over the last 12 years, killing wildlife and pillaging its resource wealth. In fact even the rangers working to protect the gorillas aren't safe. About 120 park rangers have been killed on the job since 1996. And to illustrate the threat, this video was posted on Virunga's web site in October.
There is no shortage of threats to the survival of gorillas. And for the next year, Jane Goodall will be leading the United Nations' efforts to try to deal with them. She's a world-renowned primatologist and the official Patron of the U.N. Year of The Gorilla. We reached Jane Goodall in Bournemouth, England.
Birthdays mark a day of celebration. And for the oldest gorilla in North America, this week is a special one. Timmy is a Silverback gorilla, and he'll turn 50 on Saturday. So the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky -- where he lives -- is going to throw him a party, complete with birthday cake. We asked the organizers to describe what a gorilla birthday bash looks like. First you'll hear from Roby Elser, Timmy's human caregiver. Then executive chef Brian Riddle will described how you make a cake for an ape.