March 15, 2010

 

Pt 1: Flu Season That Wasn't - We started this segment with a clip from last spring, during the early days of the H1N1 flu outbreak. Fear, bordering on panic, was bouncing around the globe just about as fast as the virus itself. And one early estimate warned that as many as 58,000 people could die in Canada alone.

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Pt 2: The Unanswered Question - On June 1st of last year, the early news reports were sketchy. An Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris was missing. In the hours and days to come, more information would come out. Flight 447 had plunged into the Atlantic Ocean four hours after takeoff. There had been storms in the area. There may have been an equipment malfunction. 228 people had died. But no one really knew what took the plane down. They still don't.

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Pt 3: Billionaires - Carlos Slim Helu is the man who has displaced Bill Gates as the richest person in the world. Carlos Slim Helu's family fortune is estimated at 53.5 Billion Dollars. To put that in perspective, if he were a country, he would have the 70th largest economy in the world ... right behind Slovenia and just above Oman and Ecuador.

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It's Monday, March 15th.

New research suggests the flu vaccine often doesn't work.

Currently, Health Canada will begin testing placebos next week.

This is The Current.

Flu Season That Wasn't

We started this segment with a clip from last spring, during the early days of the H1N1 flu outbreak. Fear, bordering on panic, was bouncing around the globe just about as fast as the virus itself. And one early estimate warned that as many as 58,000 people could die in Canada alone.

But this morning, it's clear that's not even remotely close to how things turned out. Flu season won't officially be over until the end of this month. But practically speaking, the flu is finished in Canada. And the final number of deaths attributed to H1N1 is 418. That is -- of course -- 418 people too many. But it's also far fewer than the 2,000 to 8,000 Canadians who die every year from the seasonal flu.

To help figure out what we've learned from the flu season that wasn't, we were joined by Dr. John Spika, Director General for the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infectious Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada. He was in Ottawa this morning. Dr. Tom Jefferson is a medical doctor and epidemiologist, who has done extensive reviews of the scientific research on flu vaccines for the well-respected Cochrane Collaboration. And he joins us from his office in Rome.


The Unanswered Question

On June 1st of last year, the early news reports were sketchy. An Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris was missing. In the hours and days to come, more information would come out. Flight 447 had plunged into the Atlantic Ocean four hours after takeoff. There had been storms in the area. There may have been an equipment malfunction. 228 people had died. But no one really knew what took the plane down. They still don't.

One of the passengers on board Flight 447 was a man from Guelph, Ontario named Brad Clemes. Brad's brother, John Clemes, lives in Paris. Since that day, he has been trying to find out why the plane carrying his brother went down and trying to come to grips with his loss. Genevieve Oger has prepared a documentary about John's ordeal. It's called Unanswered Questions.

The Brad Clemes Memorial Golf Tournament has been established as a tribute to Brad Clemes. It will take place July 9th in Guelph, Ontario. You can go to bradclemesgolf.com for more information.

Music Bridge

Artist: The Bills
Cd: Let Em Run
Cut: 5, When the Bucket Runs Dry
Label: Borealis
Spine: BCD 164



Billionaires - Profiles

Carlos Slim Helu is the man who has displaced Bill Gates as the richest person in the world. Carlos Slim Helu's family fortune is estimated at 53.5 Billion Dollars. To put that in perspective, if he were a country, he would have the 70th largest economy in the world ... right behind Slovenia and just above Oman and Ecuador.

This year, he knocked Microsoft founder Bill Gates down to second place on Forbes' list and legendary investor Warren Buffett to third. There are still 403 American billionaires. So it's not like the U.S. is wanting for plutocrats. But there does seem to be a global shuffling of the super-rich at work.

Aside from Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffet, the list of the 20 richest people in the world includes only five other Americans ... four of whom share the last name Walton and an interest in Wal-Mart. And emerging economies are coming to the fore. The fourth and fifth places on the list are Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal, both from India. And all told, Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Brazilian and Korean businesspeople are on the list in unprecedented numbers.

So for his thoughts on what that shakeup says about what's happening in the global economy, we were joined by Brian Milner. He's a senior economics writer with The Globe and Mail and he was in Toronto.

Billionaires - Canada

We started this segment with a clip of Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, speaking shortly before becoming a space tourist. Forbes Magazine pegs his wealth at 2.5-Billion dollars, which puts him in the stratosphere among Canadians. Twenty-four Canadians made the Forbes billionaire list. They are led by David Thomson, who ranked 20th in the world at 19-Billion dollars.

The rest of the list is peppered with names you might expect ... such as Galen Weston, the Irving brothers, Paul Desmarais, Charles Bronfman and Wallace McCain. The upstarts -- relatively speaking at least -- are Mr. Laliberte as well as the trio behind Research in Motion ... Mike Laziridis, Jim Balsillie and Douglas Fregin.

Rod McQueen is a long-time businesses journalist who has written a number of books about Canada's business titans. His latest book is Blackberry: The Inside Story of Research in Motion. And Rod McQueen was in Toronto.

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