Sunday, June 5, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
Soccer and Organized Crime -
There is little doubt that soccer is the most popular sport in the world, attracting the attention of hundreds of millions of fans and billions of dollars. Ordinary human activity seems to stop when the final game of the World Cup takes over the planet's TV screens.
While some of us may feel that watching soccer is as exciting as watching ice melt, there is little doubt, that much of the world is soccer mad. There, sadly, also seems to be little doubt that it is the most corrupt, crooked, and fixed sport in the world.
This week, FIFA, the governing body of professional soccer, elected a new president - well actually the old president - the other candidates were kicked out for accepting bribes. The beautiful game is more about bribery and corruption than about beauty.
Declan Hill is a Canadian journalist who has become a leading authority on corruption in sports. He has worked with police agencies across Europe to try to stamp it out and has been consulted by the International Olympic Committee among others.
In our first hour on this first Sunday in June, how soccer became a hotbed of bribery, thievery, cheating and corruption and what, if anything can be done about it.
Read more about hour one here
The Gold at the Roof of the World (Doc) -
Barrick Gold is a Canadian company and is the biggest gold mining corporation in the world. It goes looking for the precious stuff in some of the most remote and poorest countries on the globe, sometimes to the chagrin of the local residents.More and more these days, Barrick is being held to account not only by media and human rights groups but by its financial supports. In our middle hour, Karin Wells brings us a special documentary report on a Barrick mining operation on the border between Chile and Argentina.
Read more about hour two here
Women of Zimbabwe Arise -
Robert Mugabe has turned once prosperous Zimbabwe into a beggar nation, a police state where any opposition is crushed by police nights sticks, kidnapping, disappearances. In the middle of this state-sponsored violence is a woman named Jenni Williams.
Nine years ago, she founded an organization called Women of Zimbabwe Arise or WOZA. Because of her protests, she has been thrown in jail, dozens of times, beaten, threatened with death and general declared, "Mugabe's number one enemy". Still she carries on. The courage of Jenni Williams in our third hour.
Read more about hour three here
Elsewhere in the program, a new, uncensored version of Oscar Wilde's only novel, The Portrait of Dorian Gray; some thoughts on Orwell and poverty; and the man behind the world's richest poetry prize, Scott Griffin. Plus some great music without a June/Moon in sight.
In this week's essay, Michael tips his hat to George Orwell.
Soccer and Organized Crime
A recent letter to the editor of The Economist, suggested that FIFA, the governing body of international soccer, does at least have an appropriate acronym. Its committee members seek a fee for this, and a fee for that.
FIFA may well be the most corrupt organization since Nero's cabinet.
This week, scandal rocked FIFA once again at a meeting in Zurich, where its president was re-elected. The only other candidate had been suspended, pending an investigation into allegations of bribery involving wads of cash in brown paper envelopes. This comes on top of charges that the recent vote to award the 2022 World Cup to the tiny, desert nation of Qatar, was bought.
The stakes could not be higher -- billions in TV rights, corporate backing from the likes of Coca Cola, Adidas and Visa, and the passionate concern of soccer fans around the world, who want to know whether their beautiful game is rotten at the core.
Declan Hill is a Canadian journalist who investigated corruption in soccer for his doctorate at the University of Oxford. He has been invited to testify before the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations on how best to attack corruption. Declan is the author of, The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime, and he joined Michael from Ottawa.
Last week on the program, we aired a documentary about a Jacob Mendelow Davis, a Canadian who fought with the US Marines in Iraq, and returned with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have some of your thoughts on that.
We also got some feedback about a personal essay we ran on the show two weeks back. Gerald Parker in Toronto wrote this is response to Antonia Morton's, Wrestling With The Weight of Earthly Goods.
Thanks to all of you who wrote in. If you have something to say about something you've heard on the show, send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just click on "contact us", right here on our website.
Food Sharing - Personal Essay
Sharing.....is caring. Isn't it? Well, it depends on how divvy it up.
From the time we're very little people, we are told about the virtues of sharing. Geraldine Sherman heard it all, took it in, and made her own choices.
The Gold at the Roof of the World
Sometimes just getting a bad reputation, deserved or not, can be bad for business.
That's what Barrick Gold is finding out - and why it's looking for ways to make peace with its critics and polish its image. Barrick, based in Toronto, is the biggest gold mining corporation in the world. It operates in some of the world's poorest countries. This has led to violence -- and a severely tarnished reputation.
At Barrick mines in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania, thousands of impoverished villagers regularly comb the waste dumps and sometimes invade the mines, searching for chunks of rock that contain infinitesimal amounts of gold. In Tanzania last month, seven invaders were shot and killed.
And there are allegations that Barrick security guards at both mines, captured and gang-raped women. Barrick issued a statement calling these "deplorable crimes that, if confirmed, are neither acceptable or excusable," and vowing a full investigation.
Barrick is increasingly being held to account - not only by the media and human rights organizations, but by investors and lenders. The Norwegian government pension fund recently divested itself of Barrick shares, citing the company's "lack of openness in environmental reporting".
But there is, Barrick has discovered, a way to finesse political dissent, de-fang opponents and still walk away with the money.
This management style is on full display at Pascua Lama, a Barrick mine that is under construction, high in the Andes on the border of Chile and Argentina. Its sister mine, Veladero, a few kilometers away, is already up and running.
Pascua Lama has provoked the strongest anti-mining reaction that Chile has ever seen. Argentina has passed legislation that could shut it down.
But there's 20 billion dollars worth of gold sitting in that mountain and Barrick is pulling out all the stops - to make sure they bring it all back home.
Karin Wells' documentary is called, The Gold at the Roof of the World.
Scott Griffin's Top Prize
When Canadian poet, Susanne Buffam, walked onstage at a reading for the Griffin Poetry Prize earlier this week, she came armed with a camera.
As she stood at the podium - she herself was a nominee for this year's Prize - she said she had never seen so many poetry-lovers in one place.
Perhaps to remind herself later - or to collect proof - that more than a thousand people would come out to listen to poetry, she snapped a picture.
The gesture got a laugh. But it also made a point. Poetry matters.
Which, to mix metaphors, must be music to the ears of Scott Griffin, the Canadian businessman and philanthopist who founded the Griffin Prize, with his own money, in 2000.
It has grown into the richest and most prestigious literary prizes in the world.
This year, judges considered 450 books from all over the world and chose two winners: Canadian poet, Dionne Brand and Gjertrud Schnackenberg from the United States.
We invited Scott Griffin into the studio to talk about a subject that's very close to his heart.
Women of Zimbabwe Arise
From Cairo to Benghazi to Damascus, popular uprisings are changing the face of the Arab world. In some places, demonstrators have brought down dictators and in others, clashes continue as crowds demand reform.
In much of Africa, the conditions also seem ripe for revolution. Widespread poverty, government corruption and human rights violations are part of everyday life in many countries.
But there are no mass demonstrations in the streets of Addis Ababa or Harare. And the stories of repression and government-sponsored violence have all but disappeared from the headlines of the western newspapers. That makes Jenni Williams job more difficult - and perhaps more urgent - than ever before.
Ms. Williams is the founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise - or WOZA - an underground protest group devoted to the fight for social justice. Ms. Williams' campaign against the violent rule of President Robert Mugabe has cost her a lot; she's been arrested or simply taken by security forces dozens of times.
She's been tortured and threatened and has frequently had to hide from the authorities. But none of that has convinced her to abandon her campaign.
This week, Jenni Williams was in Ottawa to give a speech to celebrate Amnesty International's 50th anniversary and this morning, she was in our Ottawa studio.
Dorian Gray, UncensoredThe Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde's only novel.
The title character is a young man with the face of an Adonis and few morals to speak of, whose portrait ages and turns ugy - assuming all the wages of Dorian's sins - while he himself remains young and unchanged.
In its day, The Picture of Dorian Gray was called "vulgar", "poisonous", and "unclean" or - as one newspaper of the day put it - "heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction".
All that for a manuscript that had already been cleaned up, first by the editor of the magazine where it was first appeared in 1890, then by Wilde himself when he published it as a book a year later.
It was reviled for its allusions to homosexuality, sexual promiscuity and personal self-indulgence - all unacceptable in polite Victorian society. And it was the beginning of the end for Oscar Wilde, who five years later would find himself imprisoned for gross indecency. He died destitute in 1900, fulfilling his own prediction: "I will never outlive the century. The English people would not stand for it".
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic and delectable bit of gothic horror. It is also a serious reflection on art, beauty and the consequences of pleasure for pleasure's sake and at any cost.
Now for the first time it can be read as Wilde first wrote it in a new version called, The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition. It is edited by Nicholas Frankel, associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Professor Frankel joined us from a studio in Richmond, Virginia.