March 10, 2009

Pt 1: Fatherhood or Chemo - Nearly two years ago, Hector Hinkley was diagnosed with brain cancer. The good news is that there's a drug called Temodol that is keeping him alive. The bad news is that it costs about 30,000 dollars a year. And Hector and his wife Laura , they make about 28,000 dollars a year between them. So they have a stark choice -- support the family or pay for the drug.

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Pt 2: Military Control in Juarez - A few weeks ago, Roberto Orduña Cruz got an ultimatum. At the time, he was the police chief in Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican border city that has been at the centre of that country's brutal drug wars. The ultimatum came from the drug traffickers.

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Pt 3: Out of Context - Documentary- K'Naan is a Somali-Canadian hip-hop artist. As far as street cred goes, let's just say there aren't too many MCs who can say they spent their childhood dodging warlords in Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous places on earth.

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It's Tuesday, March 10th.

Tibetans mark the fiftieth anniversary of their failed uprising against China today. And Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for a "Great Wall" of stability in Tibet.

Currently ... Actually, what he said translates more precisely as a Great Wall "ON" Tibet. But that's gotta be just a syntax thing right?

This is The Current.

Fatherhood or Chemo - Talk Tape

Nearly two years ago, Hector Hinkley was diagnosed with brain cancer. The good news is that there's a drug called Temodol that is keeping him alive. The bad news is that it costs about 30,000 dollars a year. And Hector and his wife Laura , they make about 28,000 dollars a year between them. So they have a stark choice -- support the family or pay for the drug.

Drug therapies for cancer used to be administered intravenously in hospitals, so they were covered by provincial health plans. But there's now a new generation of highly effective and very expensive drugs that can be taken at home. Except that since they aren't administered in hospitals, the cost of those drugs often falls to the patient. And only some of those patients have private insurance that will cover it.

Hector Hinkley and his wife Laura live in Port Hawkesbury in Cape Breton. The CBC's Joan Weeks has been covering their story and she was in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada

It would be nice to think that what's happening to Hector Hinkley is just an isolated incident - a case of someone slipping through the cracks. But according to Kong Khoo, we're likely to see more cases like this unless we figure out a better way to help people pay for these new, take-home cancer drugs.

He's a medical oncologist in Kelowna, British Columbia. He's also the Vice Chair of the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada. Last month, the coalition released a study of the costs of take-home cancer drugs in Canada. And Doctor Khoo joined us from Kelowna.

 

Military Control in Juarez

A few weeks ago, Roberto Orduña Cruz got an ultimatum.

At the time, he was the police chief in Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican border city that has been at the centre of that country's brutal drug wars. The ultimatum came from the drug traffickers.

They said they would kill one police officer every 48 hours until Chief Cruz resigned. At first, he refused to give in. But then his deputy, three of his deputy's men, as well as another police officer and a prison guard turned up dead. After that, Chief Cruz tendered his resignation and left town. Now, in his place, the Mexican Government has been sending in troops. More than 5,000 soldiers have been charged with trying to take back the city.

Ciudad Juárez has long been known as one of the most violent places in Mexico. It was home to half of the country's 6,000 drug-related killings in 2008. And 2009 is on pace to be even bloodier.

The Canadian government has issued a travel alert for Mexico that specifically mentions Ciudad Juárez as a place where tourists must be extremely careful. And some local shop-owners say business is down because people are too scared to leave their homes unless they absolutely have to.

Voices from Ciudad Juárez

In this part we heard local restaurant owner, Jose Martino, talking to the BBC about his situation.

But there is one one business that has no shortage of activity. Associated Press reporter Julie Watson visited the Juárez morgue. We also heard what she had to say about how busy it is.

Drug Cartels

And as the battle between the army and the drug cartels continues, the people who live in Ciudad Juárez still have to go about their lives. Lucinda Vargas has to get her son to school and herself to work. She's an economist and the Director General of the Juárez Strategic Plan, a blueprint for economic, social and cultural development for the city. She joined us from El Paso, Texas.

From Ciudad Juarez to El Paso

There is a border that separates Ciudad Juarez from El Paso, Texas. But the two cities are still deeply connected. And that means the problems in Ciudad Juarez are of great concern to people in El Paso. Beto O'Rourke is a city representative in El Paso and that's where he joined us from.

 

Out of Context - Documentary

K'Naan is a Somali-Canadian hip-hop artist. As far as street cred goes, let's just say there aren't too many MCs who can say they spent their childhood dodging warlords in Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous places on earth.

But K'Naan isn't just another guy rapping about war and violence. As the CBC's Dara McLeod discovered, he's about much more than that. Dara has prepared a documentary about K'Naan and she joined Anna Maria in Toronto.

Last Word

We left you this morning with a little more music from K'Naan, the Somali-Canadian rapper known for his cultural bridge-building. For years, the hip-hop world was riven by a bitter, often cartoonish, but frequently lethal rivalry between the East Coast scene and the West Coast.

A number of rappers have tried to bridge the divide. And so does K'Naan. Except that he's talking about East Africa -- where he's from -- and West Africa. So he teamed up with Amadou and Mariam, a blind couple from Mali and one of Africa's biggest international acts at the moment. The result is a song called Africa. It's from Amadou and Mariam's latest album, Welcome To Mali.

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