Checking-In: Senate Scandal, the Right to Die, Birth Control & Dima Litvinov

Greenpeace Intl. activist Dima Litvinov looks from a defendants' cage in Murmansk, Russia. Litvinov is one of the 'Arctic 30' who are in custody after being detained on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. (AP/Greenpeace Intl, Igor Podgorny)


Political wrecking balls, metaphors and Senators and so much more when we check-in and follow up on the stories that inspired and infuriated you as we look back on the week that was.

Checking-In with listeners on the week that was on The Current

The Current's Executive Producer Jennifer Moroz joined Anna Maria in studio to check in with what you had to say about the stories we looked at during the past week.

senate-strategies-thumbnail.jpgSenator Performance: As Senator Mike Duffy continues to slowly reveal significant details about the scandal in the senate, the drama in the political theatre couldn't be more riveting. And yesterday, our panel of three political insiders rated the players.

One of those panelists was communications consultant Gerry Nicholls made a comparison between Mike Duffy and Miley Cyrus. And that didn't go unnoticed on Twitter.

Emily Murphy tweeted:

"Images of Mike Duffy on Miley Cyrus's wrecking ball courtesy of The Current! A terrifying thought."

There were many tweets pretty much saying the exact same thing! But there were others, such as someone with the twitter handle, Ari R111 who tweeted:

"Let's just close the door on the party room and use that money for something more useful."

John Robert Sylliboy tweeted this:

"Come on, stop referring to the Senate Scandal as theatre, it's very real and quite disrespectful. Political drama weakens us."

This week both Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy appealed to their colleagues not to suspend them from the Senate because they would be cut off from their medical benefits. We wanted to find out why these benefits are worth fighting for.

The Public Service Health Care Plan -- PSHCP Website

We got in touch with Nick Bergamini of the Canadian Tax Payers Federation. He says that Senators are covered under the same benefits as all public servants and that their coverage plan is -- quote:

"... generally considered to be one of the best health plans to belong to in Canada with wide coverage for many expenses not covered under provincial health plans, as well as wide coverage for dependents and spouses."

According to the Senate communications office these benefits are fully paid by the Employer.

litvinov-thumbnail.jpgGreenpeace Activist Dima Litvinov: Earlier this month we covered the story of the Greenpeace activists detained in Russia. The group was arrested after staging a protest at the site of a Russian state-owned oil rig. The original charges of piracy have been lowered to hooliganism which carries a possible seven-year prison sentence.

One of the detainees is Russian-born environmental activist Dima Litvinov. If convicted he would become the third generation of political prisoners in his family. His father Pavel is a former Soviet dissident who was exiled to Siberia for five years before moving to the United States. Pavel Litvinov was in Irvington, New York.

pam-wald-thumbnail.jpgThe Right to Die: Earlier this week, legislation on end of life care was adopted in second reading by members of Quebec's National Assembly. Bill 52 has put the assisted suicide debate back on the table across the country.

Tuesday on The Current we went to the state of Oregon for some perspective. Oregon is the first jurisdiction in North America to legalize physician assisted death.

The issue was picked up on Twitter. Someone who goes by Robert Roberts posted this:

"Give people choice. We have it with women and abortion. Time to give end of life choice."

Emma Seager tweeted:

"It's not about the doctor, it's about the patient! Doctors shouldn't prolong a miserable life because that's what they learned in school."

The way the law is set up in Oregon, the patient must be able to speak for themselves. And so in the case of Ben Wald, there was some urgency to qualify for the process before it was too late. To that, Jen Romnes posted this:

"It's sad because folks will end life there earlier because of fears of being unable to later as incurable disease progresses."

Another requirement for medically assisted suicide is that the patient must be able to take the lethal medication on their own. And Emily Hill of London, Ontario emailed us a reminder of this distinction. She writes:

"Assisted suicide, by definition, is someone ending their own life with the aid of another person. Euthanasia is someone else committing the act that ends the life of that person. Morally and legally, these are two distinct issues, and should be treated as such."

birth-control-thumbnail.jpgBirth Control: Over time, the birth control pill has been seen as a liberator of women. But a study released this summer shows the pill is undergoing an image crisis. The study showed an increasing number of young women are shunning the pill and instead choosing non-hormonal methods of birth control. And withdrawal as a form of birth control is increasingly popular. Here is our segment.

Lots of women had something to say about this. Pamela Brown of Victoria sent us this:

"When I was highly likely to get pregnant, I either used birth control and/or the withdrawal method. But the best option of all is no intercourse!"

Susan Becker Cohen of Toronto made this point:

"The withdrawal method only serves male satisfaction. I don't have sex just for my partner's orgasm, and I imagine lots of other women feel the same way."

This is from Nicole Kowalski. She's 29 and says she's part of the pull-out generation and writes from Winnipeg:

"Gynecologists and doctors should explore these options with women. I have been made to feel that any option that does not contain a hormonal element is not effective. As a result, I choose not to discuss birth control with my health care provider."

And here's one more thought from Miriam Gersho of Niagara Falls, Ontario:

"Question. You know what they call couples who rely on withdrawal as a form of birth control?
Answer. Parents
Believe me; I know."

harriette-cunningham-thumbnail.jpgGender on Govt ID: Tuesday on The Current we heard from Harriette Cunningham, a transgender ten year old in BC, who is pressing the government to allow her to remove her gender from her birth certificate.

But is it the job of border security to know which gender you are?

To talk more about the concerns of the passport checkers when it comes to removing gender from government issued ID we are joined by Josh Labove, a border security expert at Simon Fraser University. He was in Vancouver.

gail-vaz-oxlade-thumbnail.jpgAnd now a little bit about tomorrow's show! Friday will be a special Project Money edition of The Current. Self-described financial crusader and popular host of TV shows such as 'Till Debt Do Us Part and Princess Gail Vaz-Oxlade will kick off the first day of November - which is also the first day of Financial Literacy Month.

Want to join in on the discussion? Share your thoughts about what you are hearing on The Current.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch and Carole Ito.

Last Word - Boris Karloff in 1968's Targets

For a generation raised on Stephen King and zombie films, the short uncanny story holds few terrors. But if there's one actor who could extract the full eerie out of the merely weird, it was Boris Karloff.

In one of his final appearances in the movie Targets, he creeps out some tough young film makers with an impromptu story. Director Peter Bogdanovich was impressed the old man did it with the first take.

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