April 8, 2009

Pt 1: No Nukes - We started this segment with a clip of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking in Prague on Sunday. In the course of just a few minutes, President Obama redefined the American agenda on nuclear weapons ... moving from reduction and non-proliferation to outright abolition.

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Pt 2: Belfast Mayor - We started this segment with a clip from the news 11 years ago this week, as Catholic Sinn Fein and the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party set aside their substantial differences and signed the Good Friday Agreement. There was a lot of hope that day as the six counties of Northern Ireland began to try to build a new and peaceful future.

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Pt 3: Counting Homeless Panel - This time next week, more than 700 volunteers, armed with clipboards and questionnaires, will fan out across Toronto, combing the city's alleyways, bus shelters and public parks looking for homeless people to interview. It's part of what the City of Toronto calls "Street Needs Assessment."

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It's Wednesday, April 8th.

The City of Toronto has hired 50 individuals to act as homeless people during an upcoming survey of the city's street population. The decoys will get a pre-approved credit card worth 100-dollars.

Currently, Actual homeless people will get coffee and donuts.

This is The Current.

No Nukes

We started this segment with a clip of U.S. President Barack Obama speaking in Prague on Sunday. In the course of just a few minutes, President Obama redefined the American agenda on nuclear weapons ... moving from reduction and non-proliferation to outright abolition.

But just hours earlier, North Korea had delivered an illustration of just how difficult a task that may be. It launched a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Jonathan Schell says despite the launch -- and all of the other barriers to be overcome -- a nuclear-weapons-free world is within our grasp.

Jonathan Schell is the Peace and Disarmament Correspondent for The Nation Magazine and the author of a number of books, including The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. He is also a lecturer at Yale University where he teaches a course on the nuclear dilemma. And he was in New Haven, Connecticut.

 

Belfast Mayor

We started this segment with a clip from the news 11 years ago this week, as Catholic Sinn Fein and the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party set aside their substantial differences and signed the Good Friday Agreement. There was a lot of hope that day as the six counties of Northern Ireland began to try to build a new and peaceful future.

Even so, the last 11 years have seen political set-backs, accusations of bad faith and -- as we saw last month with the killing of two British soldiers -- the occasional return to violence.

Tom Hartley has witnessed a lot of Northern Ireland's history first hand. He's also made a little of it himself. He is a long-time Sinn Fein activist and now the Mayor of Belfast. He's traveling in Canada this week to try to strengthen ties between Canada and Belfast. And Tom Hartley was in Toronto this morning.

 

Counting Homeless Panel

This time next week, more than 700 volunteers, armed with clipboards and questionnaires, will fan out across Toronto, combing the city's alleyways, bus shelters and public parks looking for homeless people to interview. It's part of what the City of Toronto calls "Street Needs Assessment."

And it's designed to give municipal policy makers an estimate of how many homeless people are in the city and what they actually need. Many citites have conducted homeless counts in the last few years. And the practice has proven controversial.

Especially in British Columbia, where the Ministry of Housing has just changed the criteria for who qualifies as homeless something that may result in changing the official number of homeless people in the province.

Today we looked at at the politics of counting the homeless with Cathy Crowe. She is a street nurse. She's also the Co-Founder of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee and an Atkinson Economic Justice Fellow. And Janet Davis is a City Councilor in Toronto and the chair of the committee that oversees the city's Street Needs Assessment. They were both in our Toronto studio.

Counting Homeless - Overview

David Hulchanski is a Professor of Housing and Social Policy at the University of Toronto and the Associate Director of Research at the University's Cities Centre. He's spent a lot of time assessing the politics of counting the homeless and he was in Toronto.

Last Word - Fields of Athenry

Earlier we heard from Tom Hartley, the Mayor of Belfast talking about his city's troubled past and what he hopes is a promising future. And with that in mind, we ended the program with a version of one of Ireland's great folk songs. The song is called Fields of Athenry by Craft.

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