February 20, 2009

Pt 1: How to Sell a Car - We started this segment with a Saturday Night Live skit from last fall ... a disturbingly prescient skit as it turned out. On Tuesday, General Motors and Chrysler presented their Viability Plans to the United States Treasury Department. Both companies said they had agreed to a series of concessions with their unions, dealers, suppliers and lenders and then they asked for 21.6 Billion U.S. dollars in federal loans. That's on top of the $17.4 Billion dollars they had already been granted.

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Pt 2: Democracy - Over the last century, the United States has actively supported democratic movements on almost every continent. And at the same time, it has actively undermined democratic movements in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

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Pt 3: Raw Milk Cheese - Earlier this week, a group of cheese connoisseurs gathered in Toronto for a chance to sample some raw milk cheese, and get a little education, courtesy of the host, Canadian Chef, Gurth Pretty. We aired some tape from a celebration of raw milk cheese, held earlier this week in Toronto.

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Today's guest host was Sheila Coles in Regina.

t's Friday, February 20th.

Three men accused of helping plan the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya were acquitted yesterday. Politkovskaya was shot dead in a contract-style killing in her apartment building in Moscow.

Currently, the duma plans to have journalist-killing fully decriminalized by the end of this parliamentary session.

This is The Current.


How to Sell a Car - Hyundai

We started this segment with a Saturday Night Live skit from last fall ... a disturbingly prescient skit as it turned out. On Tuesday, General Motors and Chrysler presented their Viability Plans to the United States Treasury Department. Both companies said they had agreed to a series of concessions with their unions, dealers, suppliers and lenders and then they asked for 21.6 Billion U.S. dollars in federal loans. That's on top of the $17.4 Billion dollars they had already been granted.

Today, the Canadian arms of GM and Chrysler present their proposals to the Canadian and Ontario Governments and the expectation is that they'll be asking for money too worth Billions of dollars.

Now there's been a lot of talk over the last few months about how to keep the big three auto-makers from going under. And while throwing heaps of public money at them probably won't hurt the situation, it doesn't do anything to address one simple fact ... We're just not buying as many new cars as we used to. So The Current's Dominic Girard headed out to the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. to find out what potential car buyers are really looking for.

Now some car companies have come up with innovative ways to sell their cars. For example, if you buy a new Hyundai and then lose your job ... the Hyundai Motor Company will buy it back from you. Vince Beretta is the Chief Executive of Walkaway Canada, the insurance company that handles the program for Hyundai. He was in Toronto.

How to Sell a Car - German Scrappage

And it's not just car companies that are coming up with innovative new sales incentives. Last month, Germany passed a budget that includes a scrappage program that's proving to be irresistible. Under the program, German citizens who buy a new car will get a credit worth 2,500 Euros or about four thousand dollars Canadian. We reached Jason Stein to give us the nuts and bolts of the program. He's the publisher of Automotive News Europe, and he was in Munich.

How to Sell a Car - Desrosiers

For his thoughts on what lessons the Big Three North American auto makers could and should be taking from all this, we were joined by Dennis Desrosiers. He's the President of Desrosiers Automotive Consultants and he was in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

 

Democracy - James Traub

Over the last century, the United States has actively supported democratic movements on almost every continent. And at the same time, it has actively undermined democratic movements in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

So when U.S. Presidents talk about freedom and democracy, some people are inspired and others become nervous. That schizophrenic reading of American intentions was especially strong during the eight years that George Bush was President. In part, that's because he made an explicit point of linking his country's national security with the global spread of democracy and he made that point frequently.

Historians will have to decide if President Bush's "Freedom Agenda" actually advanced the cause. But in the meantime, Barack Obama is going to have to figure out a way to make similar stated intentions but come up with dramatically different results.

James Traub has a few ideas about how he might do that. He's a Contributing Writer for The New York Times Magazine. His latest book is The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy ... Just Not The Way George Bush Did. James Traub was in our New York studio.

 

Raw Milk Cheese - Jourdenais

Earlier this week, a group of cheese connoisseurs gathered in Toronto for a chance to sample some raw milk cheese, and get a little education, courtesy of the host, Canadian Chef, Gurth Pretty. We aired some tape from a celebration of raw milk cheese, held earlier this week in Toronto.

But last September, artisanal cheese was on Quebecers' lips. for a much less palatable reason. It's been more than five months since the day known as "Black Saturday" in Quebec's artisanal cheese industry. Three hundred cheese shops, producers, and grocery stores were forced to destroy fridges full of cheeses that the government feared may have come in to contact with other locally produced cheese that had been infected with listeriosis. This outbreak was not related to the Maple Leaf Listeriosis crisis at the time.

Much of the industry has been slowly recovering since then. But not Quebec's raw milk cheese makers. A few years ago, raw milk cheese was hailed as an up-and-coming cottage industry in Quebec. But since September, as many as half of the province's raw milk cheese producers have stopped production. And there are fears that the whole industry could be gone within a year if nothing is done.

Gilles Jourdenais owns the Fromagerie Atwater in Montreal. It was one of the retail outlets caught up on "Black Saturday." 16-hundred kilograms of cheese were removed from his shop and destroyed. He was in Sutton, in Quebec's Eastern Townships this morning.

Raw Milk Cheese - Scientist

Clement Falardeau is with Quebec's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, or MAPAQ. That's the ministry that made the decision to destroy thousands of kilograms of cheese rather than testing it for the listeria bacteria. And we asked im if -- looking back on it now -- he thinks the ministry made the right call.

And for a second opinion on that question, we were joined by Mansel Griffith. He's a food microbiologist and the Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety at the University of Guelph. He also holds a Sr. Research Chair with the National Science and Engineering Research Council which is funded in part by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.

Last Word - Auto Show

But before we go ... Earlier in the program we paid a visit to the Canadian International Auto Show to see if we could pick up some marketing and sales tips for the Big Three North American auto-makers. And while he was there, The Current's Dominic Girard found one especially sweet looking ride that he just couldn't take his eyes off of. It was big. It was green. And it looked really mean. So he asked the sales rep, Private Poisson, to run through the Hot Wheels' top features. We ended the program with that sales pitch.

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