June 6, 2010: Mediaphiles Column on unmediated Discussion on the Net- The Robotics of War - Hard Labour - Maternal and Child Health in Chad - Resa's Pieces (Doc)

Hour One: Mediaphiles: What Do You Really Think?  - In our first hour this morning our Mediaphiles panel explores the promise and perils of unregulated or unmediated discussion on the net. Vox populi, vox dei -- the voice of the people is the voice of God. But what if that voice is anonymous, abusive, intolerant, even racist. And what if that voice is expressed in newspapers, on radio and television and on the web. That's the problem facing news managers in all media. They want comments from their publics about what they publish or broadcast but the downside is the chance of libel and defamation.

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Hour Two: A New Kind of War - We'll be taking a look at a new kind of war. This week a UN report said the use of armed robot drone aircraft are a violation of the rules of war. These things are guided remotely and can kill by remote control. Often they wind up killing innocent Afghans and Pakistanis. And there are thousands of them. Peter Singer has been studying pilot-less war planes and the robotics of war for years.

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Hour Three: Hard Labour - Maternal and Child Health in Chad  In a couple of weeks, the G8 and G20 leaders will meet in Ontario. At the top of their agenda, a proposals by Canada that their highest priority be maternal health and child care in underdeveloped countries. This week we began a four -part run up to those meetings in a series called Hard Labour.

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Elsewhere on the show: A hilarious and loving look at a very special band in our documentary Resa's Pieces - the riveting novel Kanata by Don Gillmor that tackles the history of the opening up of this country and a few thoughts on prison farms.

Hour 1


Song: All Blues
Artist: Warren & Allan Vaché
Album: Remember

Michael's Essay

This week Michael discusses prison farms.

Music Song: Scarborough Fair
Artist: Brian Browne trio
Album: Blue Browne

Mediaphiles: What Do You Really Think?

This week, we reconvened our segment called "MediaPhiles" to talk about public comments on the news, comments which many people contribute anonymously or with a pseudonym.

Margaret Sullivan is the Editor-in-Chief of The Buffalo News, the major daily newspaper of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area. When she was promoted to that position ten years ago, she was the youngest female at the helm of a paper in the U.S.

Esther Enkin is the Executive Editor of News Operations at the CBC. She is responsible for the oversight of journalistic standards and practices for CBC Radio, Television and Digital Media.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, our regular "MediaPhile" panelist, teaches journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is the Executive Director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen, and the former head of news at National Public Radio and CBC Radio.

Jeffrey and Esther are with me in our Toronto studio. Margaret Sullivan joins us from the National Public Radio studio in Buffalo, WBFO.


Song: It ain't necessarily so
Artist: Molly Johnson

Mail Pack

A couple of weeks ago on the program, Michael opined about the much discussed "war on the car". With the entire landscape paved over and turned into either roads or parking lots, I thought it was pretty clear by now that the car has already won a crushing victory over any other upstarts who might wish to share our nation's public spaces.

On the same program, Michael spoke with Health Care Economist Robert Evans on that great Canadian topic--how to control health care costs while making sure we all get the health care we need.

Both of these topics promted reaction for you folks listening.

Please do write to us about anything you hear on The Sunday Edition. You can write to us at thesundayedtion@cbc.ca. Or you can write us a letter: The Sunday Edition, CBC Radio One , Box 500, Terminal A, Toronto Ontario M5W 1E6.


Song: Fore Phil
Artist: Phil Dwyer
Album: Road Stories

Hour 2


Song: Casa de Campo
Artist: The Rakish Angles
Album: The Rakish Angles

Watch my Stick.. PLEASE! - Documentary

In this band, the most common command from the conductor is SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's because at practice, the banter is as noisy as the bassoons, the talk as loud as the trumpets.

People play in this band - not because they're virtuosos - but because they love to.

And the company 's no chopped liver either.

The band is called Resa's Pieces. after its founder and conductor, Resa Kochberg. In 1999, she was an itinerant music teacher with a dream - to bring people back to playing instruments they had left behind, often decades earlier.

At seven o'clock every Monday evening, the band members meet for practice in a room at a North York High School....knowing that every June, they'll have to rein in the kibbitzing, pay attention and play their very best at the annual gala.

Our documentary this morning was called, Watch My Stick.....PLEASE.


Song: You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)
Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Album: 100 Chansons

An Interview with Peter Singer about A New Kind of War

Every day, seven days a week, United States air force personnel go to work in a high tech facility at the Creech Air Base in Nevada. These men and women are pilots who never get a foot off the ground. Their aircraft are thousands of miles away high in the sky over Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sometimes they are over Somalia or Yemen or in the heart of Iraq. The pilotless drones, being controlled by the folks at the Creech Air Base conduct surveillance, assist in fire-fights or larger battles and increasingly are on the hunt for targets to be assasinated.

Sometimes it goes terribly wrong and instead of a high-ranking bad guy terrorist being taken out, a wedding party filled with innocent men women and children are killed instead, literally dying from a bolt out of the blue.

Welcome to the world of 21st Century Warfare.

The first use of these so-called drones was in the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s but with the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, the use of drones has gone from singular to ubiquitous. In 2004, drones were in the skies for 71 hours, in 2008 25,000 hours, and next year it is expected that drones will fly missions totally 300,000 hours. And with the mounting hours, there is a corresponding mounting kill count...between 2006-2008, drones killed an estimated 454 millitants and civilians, in 2009 alone reports indicate a kill count somewhere between 453 and 667 people killed.

And the reality is that this is just drones being run by the U.S. Airforce. Other branches of the American Armed Forces have their own drone programs and other countries are signing on. Canada has its own plans for a drone force expected to be operational by 2014.

But the evolution of Drones as a weapon of war isn't just the basis for the plot for another episode of Star Trek or some techno-freak's idea of progress. It's actually the thin wedge of a whole new way of thinking about and waging war. And it's got lawyers, diplomats, civil rights activists and even philosophers perplexed and agitated.

Just this week, a UN official came close to declaring the use of drones in Afghanistan as illegal because it lacked the transparency required of war. Civil Libertarians have argued that the indiscriminate nature of the bombings and missile strikes in effect targeted civilians contrary to the rules of war. And Human Rights organizations and some military experts are arguing that using the drones to assasinate individuals violates U.S. laws. And the experts who think long and hard about the evolution of these new class of weapons think the moral and legal problems are just beginning.

Among those experts, is Peter W. Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative and senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Mr. Singer is one of the world's foremost experts on the new face of war. He is the author most recently of Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century. This we Michael spoke with Peter Singer.


Song: India Blue
Artist: Ali Akbar Khan
Album: A World Instrumental Collection

Hour 3


Song: Les Beautés du diable
Artist: Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà
Album: Il Etait une Fois...

Hard Labour : Maternal and Child Health in Chad - Dr. Grace Kadindo

Like any other doctor, Grace Kodindo invested many years of her life to study medicine, and to become a specialist. But unlike other doctors, she gave up the prospect of earning a high wage and living a comfortable life, and moved instead back to her native country, Chad.

Dr Kodindo works in one of the poorest countries in the world, under conditions that would make most people throw in the towel. Or weep.

She was born and raised in Chad, in Central Africa, but as a young woman she won a scholarship from CIDA - the Canadian International Development Agency - to study medicine in Montreal.

It changed her life. And, saved the lives of untold numbers of women in her home country, bringing real meaning to the phrase "maternal and child health".

That is, of course, the number one priority set by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for this month's meeting of the G8. Maternal and child health is also the subject of a continuing series on The Sunday Edition. We're calling it Hard Labour.

After she became an obstetrician, Dr. Kodindo returned to Chad and became head of the primary maternity hospital there. She dealt with profoundly impoverished patients ...delivering babies under difficult conditions, with few supplies and almost no hospital funding.

Maternal mortality in Chad is the fourth worst in the world. For every hundred thousand births, more than a thousand women die.

Last spring, Dr Kodindo was awarded the Millennium Development Goal Champion Torch in Denmark, in recognition of her efforts to secure comprehensive reproductive health care for women worldwide.

At the moment, Dr. Kodindo is living in New York, where she is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.

This week, Dr. Kodindo joined Michael from our studio in New York.


In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia millions of women develop fistula - an injury that tears them apart... literally. And turns them into 21st century lepers.

It happens when, during a difficult labour, a woman is unable to give birth. Her insides are damaged, and she is left with a hole between the birth passage and her internal organs - which results in permanent incontinence.

Traumatic fistulas are the result of sexual violence...when a woman is raped and tortured.

In the developed world, fistula has all but disappeared thanks to surgical interventions like Cesarean sections.

But in the developing world, women can't get treatment and, as a result, they are abandoned by their husbands and shunned by their families.

In Ethiopia, where 9,000 women a year are affected, a remarkable Australian doctor has made repairing fistula her life's work.

Dr Catherine Hamlin is an obstetrician/gynecologist who founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, which has since treated more than 30,000 women - for free - with a cure rate of more than 90%.

She is now in her eighties, and has built four clinics in Ethiopia. When Dr. Hamlin is not working in the O.R., she's on the road, talking to people about it. 


Song: Pavane pour une infante défunte
Artist: Andre Laplante
Album: 10 ans prix internationaux

Kanata: An Interview with Don Gillmor about the Stories of our Country

Kanata is an Iroquoian word that means village or settlement and it's believed to be the he origin for the word Canada...

It's also the name of Don Gillmor's 12th book...and his first novel.

It's a big sprawling book -- big in its ambition and sprawling in its scope.

Don Gillmor has taken it upon himself to tell the story of Canada, or a good chunk of it, in a fictionalized version of the adventures of David Thompson, the cartographer who put this country on the map...literally. 

 Thompson was Canada's most important mapmaker - and in the course of charting the country he walked and paddled 80,000 miles and mapped almost two million square miles.

The novel embraces a wide swath of Canadian history - from colonial days to a hundred years after Confederation - and it's a tapestry of times and personalities that, sewn together, create a picture of a nation.

Don Gillmor is an accomplished writer and journalist. In addition to his non-fiction and children's books, he's contributed to a number of magazines including Rolling Stone, GQ, Premiere, Saturday Night and The Walrus.


Song: Even Canadians get the Blues
Artist: Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass
Album: Live with the Boss

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