Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
It's Thursday, September 17th.
Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's new book about murder, conspiracies and sinister government plots hit the shelves yesterday.
Currently ... Spoiler alert: The protagonist is a smooth-talking president from Africa who seduces Americans into eternal serfdom with the promise of free health insurance.
This is The Current.
H1N1 & Pregnancies
Pregnant women will be among the first groups of people to get access to the H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available. That's the recommendation of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which released its priority list for flu shots yesterday.
The trouble is, no one in Canada has actually tested the vaccine on pregnant women. We aired a short clip of Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, David Butler Jones. Trials on pregnant women have begun in the United States. But it's still too early to draw any conclusions from them.
So, after years of being coached to be vigilant about what they put into their bodies, pregnant women are now being encouraged to take a vaccine that has yet to be fully tested on pregnant women or risk exposing themselves and their babies to a flu pandemic of unpredictable severity.
This morning, we gathered three expectant mothers who are wrestling with that choice. Adrienne Loncke and Robin Forbes were in Toronto. And Valerie-Anne Jospeh was in Montreal.
Listen to Part One:
It's Thursday, time for our weekly look at the mail. And our Friday Host, Jan Wong joined Anna Maria in studio to help read some of your letters.
EnCana Bombings: The EnCana natural gas pipelines that run near the community of Tomslake, British Columbia have been under attack over the last year. On October 11th of last year, an explosion damaged a steel gas line. And there were five more bombings in the area over the next seven months.
Last weekend, an unexpected voice of calm spoke up. Wiebo Ludwig served 18 months for charges related to sabotaging oil and gas infrastructure, including the bombing of a facility owned by Suncor. Tuesday on The Current, Wiebo Ludwig recalled the circumstances around his fight against the pipelines. After hearing from him, we heard from you.
* We did put in a request to speak to a representative from Encana. They declined to appear on the program.
Afghanistan Election: It's been almost a month since Afghanistan's presidential election. But the final, certified results still aren't in. President Hamid Karzai is claiming more than the fifty per cent necessary to avoid a run-off. But his main competitor -- former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah -- has been complaining of what he says is widespread fraud.
Grant Kippen is the chair of the UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan. He was in Kabul.
FLQ Manifesto: Last weekend marked the 250th anniversary of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. But plans to re-enact the battle were defeated. Instead, another commemorative event was set-up ... one that included a reading of the FLQ's manifesto from 1970. The decision to read the manifesto was contentious.
And last Thursday on The Current, we heard from both sides of the debate. But the event also brought back a flood of memories for many who lived through the October Crisis. We shared some letters from our listeners.
Failing Grades: Last week, The Current discussed the merits of social promotion in schools ... that is, passing students to keep them with their peers regardless of whether they actually learned the requisite material. The segment generated a lot of mail, some of which spilled over into this week. We wanted to share one particular letter that involved a voicemail message at a highschool in Queensland, Australia.
It seemed hard to believe so we put our crack investigative producer John Chipman on the case to get to the bottom of it. After calling the school, John found out it was fake and the school was none to happy about it. The principal of the school said he conducted a thorough investigation and is satisfied that the fake message did not come from within their school.
So where did this rumour start? After some digging, snopes.com, a reference site for urban legends revealed it was based on a real incident at a high school in California.
More digging turned up an LA Times article. It confirming that in 2002, 40 teachers at Palisades Charter School failed 130 students who would have otherwise passed if they had met their attendance standards. Parents complained vociferously, with some even threatening lawsuits.The LA Unified School District stepped in, saying it was not official board policy, overruled the school and reinstated all the passing grades.
The anonymous writer of the phone message has never come forward publicly.
Request Count: Last week we launched a new weekly feature on the program where we keep you updated on the number of interview requests we have made for federal cabinet ministers and how many times we have been turned down.
We did hear from a few of you on this feature and wanted to clarify, because we are a morning show, requests for cabinet ministers are made at least a day in advance, and usually early in the afternoon the day before. And in some cases requests will be made several days or even weeks in advance.
This week a request for Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety was denied.
After two weeks, the request count stands at FIVE. Of six requests for cabinet ministers... 1 cabinet minister has agreed to appear on The Current (in Part Three). So our tally stands at 6 requests, one appearance. That's a cabinet minister batting average of 166.
Listen to Part Two:
We wanted to bring you an update to a story we did last week on The Current. Anna Maria interviewed an Afghan interpreter who worked with the coalition forces. He came to Canada 18 months ago after receiving death threats from the Taliban.
On Tuesday Immigration Minister Jason Kenny announced that Canada is going make it easier for Afghan interpreters, who work for the Canadian Forces, to immigrate. Jason Kenny joined us from Ottawa.
Barack Obama came into office promising hope and change. But after a couple of months ... Well, things started getting a little crazy. People started demanding to see his birth certificate saying he wasn't actually born in the United States. A pundit named Glenn Beck went on the record arguing that Obama hates white people. A congressmen heckled the President with a shout of "You lie!"
Before that, people had tried to bring loaded automatic weapons into town halls where Obama was speaking. President Obama has been denounced as both a socialist and a fascist. And most recently, his plan to reform American health care has -- in some circles -- become equated with murder.
Rick Perlstein believes he has an explanation for all this... He's an historian and a journalist. He's been studying this wave of anti-Obama anger. And in an op-ed in the Washington Post, he argues that In America, Crazy is a Pre-existing Condition. Rick Perlstein is also the author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. He was in Chicago.
Listen to Part Three: