Mommy bloggers - Israel's Rosa Parks - Whither the Liberals

Hour One

We begin this morning with a special documentary report on the phenomenon of mommy bloggers.

When mommy blogging began, the idea was that young mothers could create a virtual network with each other and exchange ideas. Then someone realized that there was big money to be made in the marketing of the mommy bloggers. In one case, a blogger in Utah has more than 100,000 visitors to her blog every day. The idea has taken off across Canada and the U.S.

Ira Basen explores the ramifications in his documentary, Monetizing Mommy-hood.

We'll also share some of the mail in response to our conversation last week about fairness.

Hour Two

The young woman sitting properly in the front of the bus, is asked to move to the rear. She refuses, politely. The driver stops the bus. Arguments ensue. Somebody calls a cop. The young woman persists in her refusal to move to the back of the bus. This is not Montgomery Alabama in 1955 and the young woman is not Rosa Parks. This is Jerusalem in December 2011 and the woman is a young Israeli named Tanya Rosenblit. We will hear her story in her own words. 

Then a conversation with historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg. In his new book, The Unmaking of Israel, he argues that some government policies are undermining Israel's democracy and its existence as a Jewish state. 

Hour Three

Dr. Andrew Pocock, the British High Commissioner to Canada, educates Michael on the finer points of the Cornish pasty.

Former Liberal MPs Ujjal Dosanjh, Mark Holland and Siobhan Coady discuss their recent political thrashing at the polls and what they think needs to be done to rebuild the party.

Patty Smith of Fredericton shares her story of the trials and tribulations of raising a teenager in her essay, "Fermented Fish Heads".

Hour One

There is a handy e-book available these days called The Definitive 5-Step Guide to Make Money Blogging. It lists the top 50 Mommy bloggers in North America - that's the top 50 out of 4 million.

For the most part, mommy bloggers are well-educated women in their thirties, with young children. When mommy blogging began they were looking for a way to talk to other young mothers, to create a virtual village. That was before the clink of some pretty heavy change began to echo around cyberspace. That Salt Lake City queen blogger pulled in revenue of more than half-a-million dollars last year.

Mommy bloggers have redefined marketing. Mothers, surveys tell us, control more than $2 trillion dollars of purchasing power in the U.S. The way for companies to reach this $2-trillion- dollar market today is through social media, through Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Five years ago toy companies handed out 98 per cent of their samples to TV stations, newspapers and magazines. Today 70 per cent of those free samples go to bloggers. Disney, reportedly, paid a million dollars for a mommy blogger site.

But the intrusion of commerce into the world of mommy bloggers raises all sorts of questions about ethics, conflict of interest and ultimately the very meaning of social media.

Ira Basen returned from a journey deep inside the mommy blogosphere with his documentary, Monetizing Mommy-hood.


Hour Two

Israel's Rosa Parks

Over the past few weeks in Israel, tensions between the ultra-Orthodox Haredim and their fellow Jews have come to an ugly head. And Israelis are grappling once again with the spectre of the growing power and influence of the religious right in the secular Jewish state. Opposition leader Tzipi Livni has called it a "struggle for the character of the state of Israel."

In December, three incidents particularly enraged Israelis. An 8-year-old girl was spat upon and called a whore as she walked to school in the Beit Shemesh neighbourhood outside Jerusalem. Her crime? Dressing immodestly in the eyes of Haredi men. And a female Israeli soldier was accosted on a public bus and called a slut when she refused to sit at the back.

It was a disturbing repeat of the experience of Tanya Rosenblit. On December 16th, the young Israeli writer and translator was also sitting at the front of a Jerusalem bus when an enraged Haredi man insisted that she move to the back. She refused. And she took pictures of the incident.

Tanya Rosenblit is now being called the Rosa Parks of Israel, after the African-American woman who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on an Alabama bus in 1955.

Tanya Rosenblit spoke to us from Tel Aviv. 

The Unmaking of Israel

"I write from an Israel with a divided soul. It is not only defined by its contradictions; it is at risk of being torn apart by them."

Those are the words of Gershom Gorenberg, one of Israel's most articulate and perceptive joournalists and historians. A regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books and The Atlantic. He is also the author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements 1967-1977; The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount and most recently, The Unmaking of Israel.

Gershom Gorenberg spoke to Michael from Jerusalem.


Hour Three

All about the Cornish Pasty

We have a dedicated team of producers and researchers at The Sunday Edition who pored over every factoid of the year-end quiz we presented last week. No date was left uncorrected. No name was left unvetted. No question was left unchecked. Nevertheless, we were foiled. 

One of our questions was about a British food called the Cornish pasty, which Michael pronounced as paste-y. That prompted a flood of indignant emails, mainly from ex-patriate Brits, who roundly chastised him for his pronunciation. This is a typical letter, from Hilary McLaughlin of Ottawa, who opened with this:

"I am shocked and appalled at the seeming universal ignorance of the Cornish pasty (the word rhymes with 'nasty', by the way, not 'tasty'.) And she ended with this: "Goodness. Someone who doesn't know Cornish pasties. Live and learn." That was from Hilary McLaughlin of Ottawa.

Michael pled guilty as charged. Although he has lived in England and been to Cornwall, he didn't know Cornish pasties and had never eaten one. However, he was prepared to be enlightened.

Dr. Andrew Pocock is the 23rd British High Commissioner to Canada. And he joined us from our Ottawa studio.

Whither the Liberals

There was a time in this country when the selection of the next leader of the federal Liberal Party was an exercise in naming the next prime minister of Canada.

That phase in our history came crashing to an end on May 2nd of last year. Sidelined from both government and the official opposition for the first time since Confederation, the Liberals managed to capture less than 19 per cent of the popular vote. To put that in perspective, John Turner won 28 per cent of the popular vote in 1984 when Brian Mulroney handed the Liberals what is now the party's second-worst defeat.

So there exists no shortage of reasons for soul searching among the party faithful. And next week, Liberals will do just that when they gather in Ottawa for their biennial convention. We invited three Liberals to do some of that soul searching with us. All three ran and lost in the May election.

In St. John's, Siobhan Coady. She was the Liberal Member of Parliament for St. John's South-Mount Pearl from 2008 until last year.

Mark Holland was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Ajax-Pickering in Ontario, a riding he won three elections in a row. 

And Ujjal Dosanjh, former NDP Premier of British Columbia, former Liberal cabinet minister and former Member of Parliament for the riding of Vancouver South.  He too lost in the 2011 election, to a Conservative candidate.

Essay: Fermented Fish Heads

It's great advice - in theory. Don't sweat the small stuff. But in practice, and despite our best efforts, the small stuff often gets to be big stuff.

Just check in with any mother sweating through the self-doubt, the exasperation, and the hope-springs-eternal ups and downs of raising an adolescent.

Patty Smith in Fredericton shared her experience.

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