Checking - In

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High regard for horse racing royalty and low opinions of royal regard. From the Triple Crown to the British Crown, we check in with our listeners thoughts on some of the stories of the week. Also today on checking-in, we're back on the story of Grassy Narrows Ontario and the lingering effects of Mercury dumped in its waterways for a decade 50 years ago. Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs speaks to the concerns.


Part Two of The Current

Checking - In

Fifth Estate co-host Gillian Findlay and The Current's Friday host this week came into studio to help wade through our inbox.

Gaydar: A new study says gaydar is real ... though it may not work all the time. According to the research, sixty percent of the time, people can determine a person's sexual orientation after a split-second glance. We heard from listeners who agreed in gaydar science and others who said it was just hokey science.

Grassy Narrows: Minimata disease is a severe form of mercury poisoning ... and it's of great interest in the First Nations community of Grassy Narrows - where mercury was dumped into the water system 50 years ago by a paper and chemical company.

Japanese Researcher Masazumi Harada has been tracking the mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows for decades, and this past weekend, his team unveiled a new report that shows it continues to be widespread - and affect the health of the residents.

Monday on the show, we looked at the report - and the ongoing impact of mercury contamination on the community. And then we heard from our listeners through social media and e-mail. We shared some thoughts.

And one voice we did not hear in our story about mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows was that of a representative of the Ontario government. It, along with the federal government, was party to a 1986 settlement with the community and the chemical company that dumped the mercury into the water system. That settlement outlined compensation for community members affected by mercury.

Kathleen Wynne, Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs joined us in our Toronto studio.

Horse Racing: It's been 34 years since a horse and jockey have taken the Triple Crown. It's the greatest accomplishment in thoroughbred racing, and it means winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Well, this Saturday, a Canadian-owned chestnut named I'll Have Another is looking to take the crown. And its jockey will be Mario Gutierrez.

Tuesday, we heard about Mario's journey from a farm in Mexico to Vancouver, where he was mentored by long time horseman, Glen Todd and now a potential Triple Crown jockey as he prepares for the Belmont Stakes in New York this weekend. After airing this interview, we heard from our listeners with their response.

Under the Radar: Before we go, you've probably heard a lot this week about Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne. But you haven't heard about it on The Current. Here, the jubilee has gone under the radar.

We figured we should mark the event somehow. So we thought we'd bring you the jubilee from the standpoint of someone who doesn't exactly love the monarchy and what it stands for.

Benjamin Zephaniah is one of them. In 2003 the renowned British dub poet and writer rejected the Order of the British Empire, famously saying Stick it, Mr. Blair and Mrs. Queen. We caught up with him this week in China to get his thoughts on the monarchy - and the jubilee celebration.

Renowned British dub poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah rejected an Order of the British Empire in 2003. And he viewed the current celebrations surrounding the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration with ... well ... not so much jubilation.

And Benjamin Zephaniah is not alone. He rejected honours from the Monarchy - and so, it turns out, have a lot of other pretty prominent folk. Fellow writer Roald Dahl turned down the order of the British Empire in 1986. John Lennon accepted the honour of Member of the British Empire, but gave it back in 1969, with a note to the Queen.

And there are more .... The Voice runs down a partial list of those who have - over the years - reportedly declined the title of knight or dame, or turned down the honour of becoming Order, Member or Commander of the British Empire.

Here is that list:

David Bowie
Albert Finney
Aldous Huxley
Vanessa Redgrave
Stephen Hawking
E.M. Forster
George Bernard Shaw
Paul Dirac
Michael Faraday
L.S. Lowry
Graham Greene
Trevor Howard
Lucien Freud
C S Lewis

And before we go ... a special request for our listeners. It's hard to imagine, but The Current is coming close to the end of our 10th season. And this fall, we will celebrate that milestone with the launch of a web project to showcase some of our best interviews. So we want to hear from you. Tell us about the interview that stands out for you ... the one that kept you in your car, because you just had to listen right to the end.

Send us those interview ideas. And any other thoughts you have about what you hear on The Current. You can email us from our website. Our toll free number is 1-877-287-7366. Find us on Twitter @thecurrentcbc. Or track us down on Facebook ... search for The Current, CBC Radio. And via Canada Post - Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

And since we played some anti-monarchy sentiment today and because we're dedicated to balance on The Current ... we'll end this week's Checking-In on a pro-monarchy note. Literally, a pro-monarchy note with Neil Young's God Save the Queen from his new album, Americana.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pedro Sanchez and Carole Ito.


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