Friday, March 27, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
Today's guest host was Nancy Wilson.
It's Friday, March 27th.
South Africa has refused the Dalai Lama an entry visa. Critics say it's because of the country's relations with China.
Currently, well... at least it's not because of his race.
This is The Current.
South African Human Rights
As a nation that fought a war to free itself from apartheid, many South Africans still see themselves as a strong moral voice for liberation struggles around the world. So earlier this week, when the South African government refused to let the Dalai Lama into the country to attend a peace conference, it created quite a stir. The Government defended its decision by saying that the spiritual leader of Tibet would be a distraction.
But many people suspect that there's another reason. For example, South Africa exports a lot of raw materials to China. And angering China can have stark economic consequences.
In the wake of the decision, the organizers of the conference have suspended it indefinitely. And the whole affair has left some South Africans wondering if their country has lost its way.
Mandla Mandela is one of the conference organizers. He's also Nelson Mandela's grandson and he was in Johannesburg for the show.
South Africa - Activist
For Elinor Sisulu, it's part of a larger and more disturbing pattern. Elinor Sisulu is the daughter-in-law of Walter and Albertina Sisulu, two of the most important figures in the anti-Apartheid movement. She's also a writer, human rights activist and political analyst and she's in Johannesburg.
There's a positively jaw-dropping paragraph part way through this month's issue of Vanity Fair magazine. It's in an article by author Michael Lewis about the economic meltdown in Iceland.
According to Lewis, when the American aluminum giant ALCOA decided that it wanted to build a smelter in Iceland, the company had to first verify that it wouldn't be trespassing on land occupied by "hidden people" or as most of you would know them... elves.
Now, as far as we know, most ALCOA officials don't believe in elves. But ALCOA does acknowledge that it paid hard cash to make sure the future site of its smelter was elf-free. And according to Magnus Skarphedinsson, ALCOA isn't the only company to pay good money to go chasing mythical creatures that may or may not exist. He is the headmaster of the Icelandic Elf School. He's also the country's best known expert on all things elf. And he was in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Now, there aren't many Icelanders who will actually deny the existence of elves. But only a select few say they've ever actually encountered them.
To help us understand why the belief in hidden people is so strong in Iceland, we were joined by Terry Gunnell. He's teaches Folkloristics at the University of Iceland and he was also in Reykjavik.
Sold The World
Ever since the global economic crisis took hold, people have been looking for a place to park the blame for it. Over-extended homeowners. Greedy bankers. Lackluster regulators. Inept elected officials.
But Bill Kleinknecht has another idea.
He says the roots of this crisis go all the way back to the early 1980s and land at the feet of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Bill Kleinknecht's new book is, The Man Who Sold The World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America. And he was in New York City.
And we'll leave you with one more Ronald Reagan moment one many Canadians will remember. It was the so-called "Shamrock Summit" in Quebec City in 1985. President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney met to try to foster closer links between Canada and the US and they ended up together on stage, singing a duet of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling".