December 03, 2009

Pt 1: The Meaning of Gay - We started this segment with a scene from Modern Family, a sitcom about three families, including a gay couple who have just brought home the daughter they have adopted. It's the first time a network show has featured two gay men raising a child.

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Pt 2: Guerrilla Diplomacy - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Beijing on day two of his trip to China. He's hoping to pull off a delicate diplomatic maneuver by improving trade ties and talking about human rights. It appears he's making some headway. China notified Canada, it has granted approved destination status, something the Canadian tourism industry has long requested.

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Pt 3: Letters - This is Thursday, the day we turn part of the program over to you. And we're happy to welcome back Linden MacIntyre. He's the co-host of CBC Television's The Fifth Estate and a Giller-Prize winning novelist. He's also the Friday host of The Current for the next few weeks.

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It's Thursday, December 3rd.

In a statement posted on his web site, Tiger Woods has apologized for "not being true to his values."

Currently, The apology is addressed to Nike, AT&T, Gillette, NetJets, PepsiCo and Gatorade.

This is The Current.


The Meaning of Gay

We started this segment with a scene from Modern Family, a sitcom about three families, including a gay couple who have just brought home the daughter they have adopted. It's the first time a network show has featured two gay men raising a child.

In the show, Mitchell, Cameron and their daughter Lilly are just another family in the neighbourhood. And for Sky Gilbert, that was the last straw. Sky is a writer, actor, director and drag queen. He's gay. Or at least he was until he announced that he was "quitting" being gay because the term -- and the culture that surrounds it -- has become so ubiquitous, so mainstream and so boring that it's now meaningless.

Sky Gilbert is now embracing the term ESP -- that's Effeminate Sexual Person. He is a University Research Chair in Creative Writing and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. His new books is called A Nice Place to Visit. He was in Toronto. Rinaldo Walcott teaches sociology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Terry Goldie is a professor at York University and the author of Queersexlife: Autobiographical Notes on Sexuality, Gender and Identity. And Glen Murray, former mayor of Winnipeg and President of the Candian Urban Institute.


 

Guerrilla Diplomacy

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Beijing on day two of his trip to China. He's hoping to pull off a delicate diplomatic maneuver by improving trade ties and talking about human rights. It appears he's making some headway. China notified Canada, it has granted approved destination status, something the Canadian tourism industry has long requested.

Last month, Prime Minister Harper was in India. And next week, the Prime Minister will face what could be his biggest diplomatic challenge yet at the United Nations' summit on climate change in Copenhagen.

Daryl Copeland has been watching all this with great interest. And he has some thoughts on how to improve wider Canadian diplomacy. He spent nearly 30 years as a Canadian diplomat, including postings in Thailand, Ethiopia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Now, he has written a book that calls for a radical retooling of the trade. It's called Guerrilla Diplomacy: Rethinking International Relations. Daryl Copeland was in Victoria.



 

Letters

This is Thursday --- the day we turn part of the program over to you. And we're happy to welcome back Linden MacIntyre. He's the co-host of CBC Television's The Fifth Estate and a Giller-Prize winning novelist. He's also the Friday host of The Current for the next few weeks.

Munk Debates: Tuesday night, the Munk Debates hosted a lively exchange. The proposition: Be it resolved: Climate change is mankind's defining crisis and demands a commensurate response. Tuesday on The Current, we previewed the debate with two of the four participants. Bjorn Lomborg is a professor at the Copenhagen Business School and the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. And George Monbiot is a columnist with The Guardian newspaper and the author of Heat: How to Stop the World from Burning.

Climate Gate: Last month, a hacker got into the East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit and released about 10 years worth of correspondence between scientists. It details a concerted effort to blackball all scientists who were speaking out against the idea of human-caused climate change.

That email hack has become known as "ClimateGate". The emails stolen from the University of East Anglia servers and posted on the Web capture some rather unsavoury discussions among very prominent climate scientists expressing despair over data that didn't seem to fit climate models ... there's talk of clever methods, more notoriously termed "tricks," to tame manipulated data ... there are derisive, snide, vindictive comments about climate sceptics and discussions about keeping the record of such machinations out of their hands.

And there has been fallout. Two days ago Phil Jones, the director of the Climate Research Unit, stepped down from his post pending an investigation. And climate skeptics have seized on the emails to proclaim that climate change is a hoax, the result of massive collusion by climate scientists to trump up evidence of human-caused climate change.

Spencer Weart, the former director of the American Institute of Physics' Center for the History of Physics has been watching this with great interest. His latest book is The Discovery of Global Warming. We reached him at his home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Bullying at Work: If Bill 168 passes in the Ontario legislature, Ontario will become the third province to outlaw bullying and workplace violence. Monday on The Current, we heard that workplace bullying -- the assertion of power through aggression -- is more common than you might think. Gary Namie is the founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Washington State. And he says US statistics likely reflect the Canadian situation.

Marilyn Noble co-chairs a research team on workplace bullying at the University of New Brunswick. As a resource the UNB research team has created a website to share their findings.

Request Count: Time for our weekly tally. Another busy week for our federal minister request. We wanted to speak with Transport Minister John Baird about airline safety systems and inspections. He wasn't available. We wanted to speak with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and/or Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon about President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan. Neither was available.

So Three more "No's" makes 22 for the season, out of 26 requests. Four interviews out of twenty-six requests.

Facilitated Communication: Facilitated communication is a controversial technique. A therapist senses the tiny movements in a patient's hand and helps move his or her hand across a keyboard to spell out words. Proponents laud the technique as a breakthrough in communication for those unable to speak through conventional means. But the practice has many detractors who say it's just a fraud.

Last Friday, we heard from James Randi who is a magician and the founder of the James Randi Educational Trust, a non profit organization that promotes critical thinking. We also heard from Douglas Biklen, the Dean of the School of Education at Syracuse University and the Director of the university's Facilitated Communication Institute. Facilitated communication elicited strong opinions in the mail.

Brighton Bombing: It was 25 years ago this year that the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England. The attack's were intended to target then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She survived, but five others died, including a British MP named Anthony Berry. In dealing with her father's death, Mr. Berry's daughter Jo Berry decided to reach out to Patrick McGee -- the man who planted the bomb. And their relationship has been instrumental for Ms Berry to find her own personal peace.

The story resonated with Ishnan Kaur of Brampton, Ontario and last week on the program, we connected the two women on air. Ms Kaur talked about her own decision to reconcile with her father after hearing Jo Berry speak. After hearing this interview we heard from a listener who shared his thoughts and recommended a documentary The Imam and the Pastor that depicts the reconciliation between two religious leaders in Nigeria ... Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye and the peace-making initiatives that have flowed from it. The film depicts the dynamics of personal forgiveness and highlights some of the difficulties that arise in Christian-Muslim partnership. Last month, the Jacques Chirac Foundation awarded its first Conflict Prevention Prize to The Imam and the Pastor. We played an excerpt from the documentary.

Last Word - Meredith Baxter

Earlier, Sky Gilbert argued that gay culture has lost something as it has moved towards the mainstream. And speaking of the mainstream, a popular icon of U.S. network sitcoms officially came out yesterday and announced she is a lesbian. You may remember Meredith Baxter as the Mom on Family Ties or the girlfriend on Bridgette Loves Bernie. We ended the program with a nod to her.



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