August 12, 2010

Pt 1: BBC Urdu & Pakistan - The BBC's Urdu language service has launched a new service for the millions of Pakistanis whose lives have been upended by the worst floods to hit the country in half-a-century. It's called "Lifeline Pakistan" and it's designed to provide basic information about food, shelter and local services. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Flight Attendant Revolt - We look at how Steven Slater went from self-effacing flight attendant to global internet icon and how he sparked a heated debate about who's responsible for our frequently less-than-friendly skies. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

Today's guest host was Mike Finnerty.

It's Thursday, August 12th.

The BBC's Urdu language service has launched a new program to get crucial, life-saving information to Pakistanis affected by the country's devastating floods.

Currently ... Which means the Pakistani government can stop pretending to try.

This is The Current.

BBC Urdu & Pakistan

We started this segment with part of a radio program called Lifeline Pakistan. The broadcast was launched earlier this week by the BBC's Urdu and Pashto language services. It broadcasts potentially life-saving information about food distribution, medical services and shelter to the millions of Pakistanis whose lives have been turned upside down by the worst floods to hit the country in half-a-century.

About 14 million people have been affected by the floods. At least 1-thousand 6-hundred have died. Another two million have been forced from their homes. Many Canadians of Pakistani origin have family in the devastated area. Mr. and Mrs. Akhram Khan among them. They're originally from Nowshera, one of the cities hit hardest by the floods. They now live in Ottawa where they joined us.

Lifeline Pakistan , the radio program run by the BBC's Urdu and Pashto language services, is taking calls from Pakistanis looking for food, shelter, medical attention or news of their family and friends. And it's proving to be one of the only means of getting information in the areas affected by the flooding.

Shafi Naqi Jamie is the project manager and host of Lifeline Pakistan on the BBC's Urdu and Pashto language services. He was in Islamabad. And Senator Salma Attaullahjan is a Conservative Senator and the Vice-President of the Canadian Pashtun Cultural Association. She was born in Mardan in the flooded area. She was in our Toronto studio.


Flight Attendant Revolt

We started this segment with a montage addressing the flight attendant revolt that happened this week.

So Steven Slater moves from the ranks of mild-mannered flight attendant... member of both jetBlue's uniform redesign and onboard values committees.... mother a retired flight attendant, father a pilot... to hacked off folk hero

This morning there are some more details in the story... so we wanted to first start with a brief piecing together of the accounts of what happened.

(Though we should warn you, it's hard to be completely sure.)

On Monday, Steven Slater had a run-in with a passenger on a flight that apparently started before it left Pittsburgh to JFK.

"Your bag doesn't fit in that overhead bin, ma'am" "Yes it does" "No I'm afraid it doesn't, I'm going to have to take it up front", "But there are important things in there..."

Something like that.

A first-class passenger tells the WSJ this morning that she'd arrived in her seat to find a coffee stain on it and asked him for help and he merely rolled his eyes and said he was busy and she'd have to wait.

Things went downhill from there...

Arrived at JFK, someone -- it may have been the woman he had a row with earlier -- got up and started rummaging through overhead compartments before the plane had come to a full stop.... and that was it...

Finished... finito... Steven Slater grabbed the pa, carpet f-bombed the woman, chose two beers from the drinks trolley, pulled the lever on the inflatable slide and went home.

He's been charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. But his actions have resonated in a way he could never have imagined. A Facebook fan site dedicated to him has more than 100,000 followers. His supporters are raising money for his legal defense with badges that read, "We are all Steven Slater." There's even a bid to make this Friday Steven Slater Day.

So to help sort out why his actions have resonated so strongly, we were joined by three people. Wendy Stafford is a former flight attendant and supervisor. She now runs Flight Attendant Express, which provides training for flight attendant hopefuls. She was in Winstom-Salem, North Carolina. Jim Byers is the Toronto Star's Travel Editor. He was in Toronto. And Charlie Leocha is the Director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a not-for-profit consumer group. He was in Washington.

Last Word - Ballad of Steven Slater

We ended the program today with The Ballad of Steven Slater by Jonathan Mann.

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