August 25, 2010

Pt 1: Trapped Miners - 33 Chilean miners are trapped about 700 metres below the surface of the earth. Incredibly, they are alive and safe. But it could take months to rescue them. We look at how the miners are likely to cope as they wait to be rescued. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Wiki-Wars - How Wikipedia -- the now-ubiquitous on-line encyclopedia -- became a battleground for settling political scores and a very effective tool for manipulating public opinion. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

Today's guest host was Nancy Wilson.

It's Wednesday August 25th.

The Department of National Defence is trying to find out who used a government computer to post a web entry saying that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has six toes.

Currently, Ignatieff is outraged ... and demands a recount.

This is The Current.

Trapped Miners - Ken Malonson

The eyes and ears of the world are fixed on the 33 miners trapped in Chile now. But 52 years ago, a similar drama was unfolding in Springhill, Nova Scotia. On October 23rd, 1958, a huge bump -- or underground earthquake -- caused a mine shaft to collapse. In the number-two colliery of the Springhill coal mine, 74 miners were killed. Another 100 were trapped and later rescued. And twelve of them didn't reach the surface for eight-and-a-half-days. Glen MacDonald was a miner who took part in the rescue effort. We aired a clip.

Two years before that incident, 39 miners died in another disaster in Springhill. In 1956, an explosion in the Springhill mine left Ken Malonson trapped there with dozens of other men for more than three days. It's an experience that has stayed with him ever since. Ken Malonson was in Springhill, Nova Scotia.

Trapped Miners - Peter Suedfeld

The miners in Chile have already endured a lot ... nearly three weeks in a small, subterranean chamber about the size of a small apartment ... surviving on two spoonfuls of tuna, a taste of milk and a cracker every two days. But they're going to have to endure a lot more ... possibly four more months of confinement before anyone can reach them.

To help us understand the psychology of trying to survive something like that, we were joined by Peter Suedfeld. He's a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia. He has spent nearly 50 years researching human psychology in isolated and confined environments. He was in Vancouver.


Wiki-Wars - Naftali Bennett

Over the last nine years, Wikipedia has become a go-to source for basic information about just about anything. It's an online encyclopedia. It has 16 million articles in 270 languages.

And an astonishing 78 million people visit the website every month. But since anyone can edit its pages, Wikipedia has also become a free-fire zone in the battle of ideas ... and an increasingly important tool for people who want to shift public opinion about an issue.

It has made headlines in Ottawa. It has dragged government workers into the fray. And it has become an issue in the campaign to be Toronto's next Mayor. But in the West Bank, Israeli settlers have really embraced the practice... some are now taking courses on how to make sure their message gets heard in Wikipedia entries.

The classes are sponsored by the Yesha Council, an umbrella group that represents Israeli settlers. Naftali Bennett is the council's Executive Director. He's also a former Chief of Staff to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And he was in Jerusalem.

Wiki-Wars - David Pugliese

The West Bank isn't the only place where fights over Wikipedia entries have become political. Yesterday, The Correctional Service of Canada launched an internal investigation to find out how Canada's Official Languages Act was re-named the "Quebec Nazi Act" in its Wikipedia entry and how that change could have been made from a government computer.

In another incident last week, the Wikipedia page for Rob Ford -- who's running to be the Mayor of Toronto -- was sabotaged.

Late last month, David Pugliese broke another story about Wikipedia as a political battlefield. He covers defence issues for the Ottawa Citizen. And the story he broke involved some creative editing that was traced back to Canada's Department of National Defence. David Pugliese was in Victoria.

The Department of National Defence says it has concluded that one of its computers was used to alter the Wikipedia entry and that the next step in the investigative process is to confirm the user of that computer and to determine if disciplinary or administrative action may be necessary.

University of British Columbia professor Michael Byers had some of his writings about the Joint Strike Fighter removed from the Wikipedia entry. So we gave him the last word on the issue. We aired a clip with his thoughts on being edited out of the debate.

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