November 27, 2009

Pt 1: Facilitated Communication - Rom Houben was 20-years-old when a car crash put him in what doctors thought was a coma. That was in 1983. But today, thanks to specialized brain-imaging technology that wasn't available then, his doctor and his family believe he has been conscious the whole time ... trapped and unable to communicate -- but very much aware -- for more than 20 years. This week, when that story came to light, news outlets began reporting something even more incredible. We aired a clip from CBS news.

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Pt 2: Rwanda War Crimes - Earlier this week, Jacques Mungwarere -- a Rwandan man who now lives in Canada -- was formally charged with one count of an act of genocide. The charge stems from his alleged involvement in the killing of at least two thousand ethnic Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. He is the second Rwandan man to be charged in Canada.

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Pt 3: Sikh Temple - When a slate of young candidates in Surrey, British Columbia decided to run for the leadership of one of the biggest Sikh Temples in North America, they didn't mess around. They ran an Obama-styled campaign based on the slogan of "Change." And they embraced the internet with video appeals to reform the Gurdwara ... or Sikh temple.

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It's Friday, November 27th.

Controversial former CNN Anchor Lou Dobbs is considering a run for the U.S. Presidency.

Currently, he is of course assuming the job's not already filled by his Mexican gardener who will do it for 5 bucks an hour. Cash.

This is The Current.

Facilitated Communication - Randi

Rom Houben was 20-years-old when a car crash put him in what doctors thought was a coma. That was in 1983. But today, thanks to specialized brain-imaging technology that wasn't available then, his doctor and his family believe he has been conscious the whole time ... trapped and unable to communicate -- but very much aware -- for more than 20 years. This week, when that story came to light, news outlets began reporting something even more incredible. We aired a clip from CBS news.

The technique is called "facilitated communication." In Rom Houben's case, a speech therapist senses the tiny movements in his hand and moves his fingers across a touch-screen keyboard so that he can spell out, letter-by-letter, what he wants to say. His mother says he's gotten so good at it, he's started writing a book.

But facilitated communication is a very controversial practice. And while it has its supporters, there are plenty of skeptics, some of whom go as far as to call it a hoax. James Randi is one them. He's a magician who's better known by his stage-name, The Amazing Randi. He's also the founder of the James Randi Educational Trust, a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes critical thinking. James Randi was in Miami this morning.

Facilitated Communication - Biklen

But despite the criticism, Douglas Biklen says there is plenty of evidence that facilitated communication can work. He's one of the world's leading proponents of facilitated communication. He's the Dean of the School of Education at Syracuse University and the Director of the University's Facilitated Communication Institute. He was in Orwell, Vermont.

 

Rwanda War Crimes

Earlier this week, Jacques Mungwarere -- a Rwandan man who now lives in Canada -- was formally charged with one count of an act of genocide. The charge stems from his alleged involvement in the killing of at least two thousand ethnic Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide. He is the second Rwandan man to be charged in Canada.

Last month, Desire Munyaneza -- a Rwandan man living in Montreal -- was sentenced to life in prison for murder, rape and pillaging during the genocide. Rwandans -- especially survivors of the genocide -- are watching both cases closely and with a complicated mix of emotions. Prudent Nsengiyumva has been gathering their thoughts and their stories. He is a journalist who lives in Butare, Rwanda. He was in the capital, Kigali this morning.

 

Sikh Temple - President

When a slate of young candidates in Surrey, British Columbia decided to run for the leadership of one of the biggest Sikh Temples in North America, they didn't mess around. They ran an Obama-styled campaign based on the slogan of "Change." And they embraced the internet with video appeals to reform the Gurdwara ... or Sikh temple.

The candidates on the Sikh Youth slate ran on a platform with plenty of big promises. Change from the old, moderate leadership to one that's more traditionally religious ... Change from an old generation to a younger one ... And perhaps most importantly, change that would put a specific focus on tackling the drugs, gangs, and violence that they say are tearing their community apart.

Those messages brought out an overwhelming number of voters and pushed the Sikh Youth slate to victory. They will take over the leadership at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on January 1st. That's the same temple where, 12 years ago, a violent riot broke out over the issue of allowing tables and chairs into the Temple... a debate that's now history according to our next guest. Today, he says, the Surrey's Sikh Community has bigger priorities like its' youth. Bikramjit Singh Sandhar is the Temple's newly elected President and he was in Surrey, B.C.

Sikh Temple - Panel

For their thoughts on the Temple's new leadership and its prospects for curbing gang activity and youth violence, we were joined by two people. Jagdeep Singh Mangat is a community activist and a law student in Vancouver. And Indira Prahst is a Sociologist at Langara College in Vancouver. She is also a member of The South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence.

The Surrey School Board is trying to steer young people away from gangs too. It has partnered with local police and run a number of programs that reach out to kids -- especially at-risk kids -- in their schools. The CBC's Meera Bains paid a visit to one of those programs led by Rob Rai who works as a Youth Diversity Liaison for the Surrey School Board. We heard from him as well as some of the grade nine students attending his youth gang violence workshop.

Last Word - Rwanda

Earlier in the program, we heard about the prosecution in Canada of two men on charges relating to the Rwandan genocide and the reaction in Rwanda. And we wanted to end the program this week with a song of hope from Rwanda, as composed by Oliver Baganizi and performed by his traditional choir. The song is called Yeshu Shaka Kuba Uwawe. And it was recorded by Paul Benjamin, a musician from Saskatchewan.

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