August 17, 2021 Episode Transcript
The AIH Transcript For August 17, 2021
[hosts]Helen Mann, Samira Mohyeddin[/hosts]
HELEN MANN: Hello, I'm Helen Mann, sitting in for Carol Off.
SAMIRA MOHYEDDIN: Good evening. I'm Ali Hassan, sitting in for Chris Howden. This is "As It Happens".
HM: Deeds not words. A founding member of Afghanistan's national women's soccer team says she doesn't believe for a second that Taliban will respect women's rights. Saying history has taught her and her teammates otherwise.
SM: Waiting for the wings. Canada has promised to fly 20,000 Afghans who worked with Ottawa to safety. But our guest says he has no idea when he and his family will be able to leave -- despite plenty of American planes overhead.
HM: Down the drain. A Colorado researcher tells us why water levels in Lake Mead are "stunningly" low. And he says the shortage will have huge repercussions for farmers in the southwest -- whose crops help feed Canadians.
SM: Name of the game. Japanese puzzle manufacturer Maki Kaji gave Sudoku its name and its international following. To him, there was never anything puzzling about the puzzle's appeal.
HM: Insubordinate claws. Yesterday's story about avant-garde animal names reminded us of a creature whose actual name -- Perdita -- wasn't all that remarkable. But who had also earned herself the title of "World's Worst Cat." Deservedly, it turns out.
SM: And... counter intelligence. A group of Swiss researchers say they've trained a computer to calculate the mathematical value of pi up to a mouth-watering 62.8 trillion digits.
SM: "As It Happens", the Tuesday edition. Radio that imagines their efforts were fruitful... and multi-pied.
Part 1: Afghan Soccer Team, Lake Mead Water, Maki Kaji Obit
Afghan Soccer Team
Guest: Khalida Popal
SM: The Taliban says it intends to respect women's rights. But if history is any indication, the women of Afghanistan are in danger. The swift fall of Kabul this week has women in the country fearing that they will once again lose their rights -- or possibly, their lives. Khalida Popal founded the Afghan women's football team in 2007, but was forced to seek asylum in Denmark because of threats to her life. We reached her in Copenhagen.
HM: Khalida, do you believe that the Taliban has any real intention, as they said today, of respecting the rights of women in the country?
KHALIDA POPAL: Unfortunately, [sigh] it's... we don't believe them. They have proven not even months, that weeks and days, they are not, like, holding their promises. We have witnessed and there are many victims in the provinces, in rural areas, that the past few weeks and few days, the Taliban taking over the man of the family has been killed by the Taliban and their wife and sisters and daughters and the women of their family has been taken by them. We have... we have seen so many videos. I am in contact, direct contact, with the people that they have burned down the house and they have... they have taken the woman. They have killed a journalist. They have killed an artists. They have killed women rights activist. They have... they have done everything, not being in governing, not being even in their power. Now how much they... they can do it now.
HM: Now, tell us about some of the calls that you have been receiving from your soccer team members who are still in Afghanistan?
KP: They are... they are so worried. They are afraid. They are receiving the threats from the men in the country saying that we will not, like, leave you. We'll come after you. They... they're... they have left their houses. They have left for one place to another place. They are worried that because their identities have been exposed, their identities are out in the public, and especially some of the... the women... women's rights activists and lawyers. Everybody is sad. And unfortunate when I talk with my girls, they cry. And what they say, and that hurts me the most, is that the world abandoned the women of Afghanistan. They world have forgotten the women of Afghanistan. They promised to us that they will support and defend the women right in Afghanistan, but they have just left. The only thing we hear is that... that they don't see their national interest in Afghanistan. But also, the only thing they say is that they... they want their people outside Afghanistan -- that's it. The Foundation of Afghanistan Football Federation that I was one of the founding member, who established a national team of Afghanistan, it was... it was based on the movement to stand against Taliban and to say that... like, to stand and say to the Taliban that we will not give up. The women of Afghanistan is unbeatable. We will stand and we will fight against you. And with this -- our fight -- is through football. Our activism is through football. And we have called the Taliban as our enemy. And what our players are so scared, and they…. are they are just locked inside, is that they see from the window of their houses, their enemies outside their door.
HM: So what have you been telling them to do? What are you recommending for them to try to keep safe?
KP: As someone who I've been... dedicated her life, myself, who have been in this... in these all these years, I have dedicated my life, given so many sacrifices, put my... my life in danger. As a women's rights activist, as... as... as a woman who... who started football as a way of activism, I have encouraged so many young girls, new generation, that they have not actually grew up or not raised during the time of Taliban that I... I grew up. So through football, I encouraged... I was encouraging them to... to be bold, to be strong, to be fearless. So that is our way of giving back to the international community, saying that we are, as a woman of Afghanistan, we are doing everything possible to be stand beside you and be part of the development and the part of the growth. So now today, what I'm trying to tell them I can... when they call me, when they talk about this situation, I cannot... like, I don't have a plane to send to protect them. I don't... I don't have power. The only power I have my voice. What I'm recommending them is, which is against what I was working so hard for so such a long time, take down your photo, remove your photos, take down your social media channels, remove your names, try to hide. Please, wear burkas so people don't identify. You really need to get out. This is what we have... like, I have been recommending, and that is really sad. That is painful. But is just for their own safety, because we know that... that the people and the man in the country, even under the all these international forces and the government of Afghanistan, we were receiving so many death threats. The reason I am a refugee living in Denmark right now is because of the death threat that I have received from these people. And… and even that... on that time, there were many countries involved in Afghanistan that we had soldiers from all over the countries. They... they could not provide protection for me. So now, it is even worse because now all those women are vulnerable. They are in the hands of enemies.
HM: It has to be devastating for you to hear their voices asking you for help when you… you really can't do anything. I mean, how are you coping?
KP: It is just painful. It's painful. It's the only way that I keep just myself together is just like... I... the only way I'm trying to do my best is to to raise my voice. And the only power that I have is my voice to be their voice, to tell the world what the women of Afghanistan is going through. What the women of Afghanistan is needing is they need the support, they need the protection. They need the world to not forget them, to not let them to to end up another... another generation being like abandoned at home and not being able to…. to be part of the development part of this... the world, the life, daily life. They don't want to get married, what with all these imams and mullahs. They don't want to... they want to study. They want to work. They want to play football. They want to travel. What is happening is disaster, this human disaster.
HM: Khalida , thank you very much for speaking with us today, in what's clearly a very difficult time for you. I hope your friends are safe. And thank you.
KP: Thank you so much, I appreciate it. Thank you.
HM: OK, bye.
KP: Thank you. Bye.
SM: Khalida Popal is the founder of the Afghan women's football team. She was in Copenhagen. Coming up a little later on the show, we'll hear from an Afghan in Kabul trying to get to Canada amid the chaos.
Lake Mead Water
Guest: Brad Udall
SM: You just have to look at a picture of Lake Mead to see the enormous change. The top of the rock surrounding the reservoir is a dark shade. The bottom is light. The gash across the landscape lays out starkly where the water used to reach. Water levels at Lake Mead have reached historic lows. And now the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has declared a water shortage there. Brad Udall is a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University. We reached him in Boulder, Colorado.
HM: Mr. Udall, how significant is it that federal officials in your country have had to declare a level one shortage for Lake Mead?
BRAD UDALL: This is a big deal. It's the first time ever these two reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two largest reservoirs in the United States, are as low as they've ever been since they were first filled in the 20th century. So everybody's taking this very seriously, and there's a good chance there's worse to come.
HM: So give me a sense of what water levels might have been at five years ago, sometime in the past recently and where they are now. How big a drop are we talking about?
BU: So let's talk two kinds of levels. One, what's the flow in the Colorado River? And then also, what's the storage in these two big reservoirs? Since the year 2000, the river has lost about 20 per cent of its flow. And, in fact, the last two years, it's down 40 per cent. Most climate scientists, myself included, think about half of that decline is due to climate change, warmer temperatures, increasing evaporation and reducing the flow in the river. So that's one set of numbers. The other one is what's happened to these two big reservoirs. In the year 2000, they were 90 per cent full. And they're now next year going to be less than 30 per cent full. We've lost an enormous quantity of water out of these two reservoirs. More than two times the annual flow in the system. And it's both sets of those numbers that have people very, very concerned.
HM: How important is Lake Mead to people living in the southwestern United States?
BU: So this whole river system supports 40 million people, almost five million acres of irrigated ag. In the case of Lake Mead, 90 per cent of the water supply for Las Vegas, right there, two million people comes out of that lake. Fifty per cent of the water supply for Phoenix comes out of that lake. About a quarter of the water supply for Los Angeles comes out of that lake. And also, it feeds vast amounts of irrigated acreage that produce, in our case, our winter vegetables. And I'll bet some of them find their way up to Canada, too.
HM: You know, I heard an interview on the radio about a month ago with an Arizona cattle rancher who was just devastated by the water shortage that was already affecting him. I think he sold 200 head and was worried about... about surviving on his ranch. What effect is this going to have on the farmers?
BU: The primary affect here is Arizona will lose about a third of the water supply that flows in central Arizona, to Phoenix, and importantly, in this case, farmers in a place called Pinal County. And those farmers are going to lose more than half of what they've gotten used to this year. So the impacts are really uneven. If you're in Phoenix, no big deal. If you're a farmer in Pinal County, it's a big deal to these farmers.
HM: How are the most affected states and municipalities going to deal with this shortage? What kind of planning are they putting in place?
BU: So in the interim, for the next two years, this is mostly an agricultural problem. And in this case, Arizona has a number of plans in place to try and get these farmers what's called mitigation water -- water from other sources. In the longer run, the possibility that these shortfalls increase is a real concern. And if they do increase, they're going to start to impact municipalities. At that point in time, a whole new set of planning is needed. And in the case of the Colorado River, a whole new set of agreements are actually needed to be put in place by 2026. And that will involve everybody in the basin talking about how to deal with a permanently declining supply and what are the equities and how do we move forward?
HM: You talked about the reduction in the flow of the Colorado. You know, we know climate change is a factor here. Is there anything else to blame? Is there mismanagement? What's responsible?
BU: So another factor here is that the lower basin of the Colorado River, Arizona, California, Nevada have gotten used to utilizing unused water from the upper basin. And that overuse is almost 10 per cent of the flow of the river. And this has been a concern of everybody for about 20 years. Climate change brings this problem front and centre, and what it will mean ultimately is probably a permanent reduction of water use in the lower basin. So the cuts we're talking about, more likely than not, are going to turn into permanent cuts as we move forward. And potentially even deeper cuts as the river likely continues to drop.
HM: What message do you want to send to people listening to this conversation about, you know, what they should be thinking about?
BU: Wow! So maybe a couple of things. One, we're not taking climate change seriously enough. And we need to figure out how to get greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as we practically can. Related to that is that climate change is water change. As the earth absorbs more heat and more energy, we expect the water cycle to intensify. So more droughts, more floods, earlier snowmelt, more intense precipitation, all of these things scientists have known about for decades. And we're now seeing that. So those are a couple of points. In the water sphere, our water managers, for the most part, understand risk management. And in the case of the Colorado River basin, have 100 years of working together. It's not always been kumbaya, but in the last 20 years, these managers have figured out how to work together and take a bigger, broader global or regional perspective on how to do the least harm as supplies decline. And I have optimism that we'll figure this out. It'll be rough getting there, but we will... we will do what it needs... we need to do.
HM: I'm glad to hear you're optimistic. It's been a really difficult year for extreme weather. And these kind of stories seem to be piling up. Thank you very much, Mr. Udall. Appreciate your time.
BU: You're welcome, Helen. Thank you.
SM: Brad Udall is a senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University. He's in Boulder.
[music: bright piano]
Maki Kaji Obit
Guest: Will Shortz
SM: Maki Kaji was the godfather of Sudoku. In 1984, he had already co-founded Japan's first puzzle magazine, Nikoli Co., when he came across an obscure game, known as "Number Place." He solved one puzzle and realized its potential to become a commercial success. He renamed the game "Sudoko" and went on to publish thousands more. Mr. Kaji died last week at home in Tokyo. He was 69. Will Shortz is the crossword editor for the New York Times. We reached him in Houston, Texas.
HM: Mr. Shortz, how big a figure was Maki Kaji in the world of puzzles?
WILL SHORTZ: I'd say Maki was a beloved figure because I think more than anyone else, he was the person who popularized Sudoku. Sudoku was actually invented in the United States in 1979. But in the 1980s, there was a Japanese puzzle magazine editor, an editor for Nikoli magazine, who was in the United States, found this puzzle, took it to Japan, and Maki introduced it in his Nikoli magazines. And it was a huge success. And Maki was also the person who named the puzzle. Originally, it was called Number Place in the English language. He made the name Sudoku, which means something like single numbers. And it became a hit in Japan first. And then it started spreading around the world, and in 2004 and 2005.
HM: I gather that the name Sudoku was maybe just a placeholder for a while, and it ended up sticking?
WS: So the story is that when the puzzle was introduced in the Nikoli magazine, Maki was asked for a title for it. He was about to go to the racetrack because he loved to gamble. And in less than a minute, he came up with this long title, which was eventually abbreviated to Sudoku. And that was just a placeholder that, well, it was a perfect name. But... and when the name came back to the... to the United States and other countries, it had an exotic feel to it, which was kind of cool. It was different from anything else.
HM: So publishing it in Nikoli kind of gave it obviously a place to... to grow in popularity. But what else did he do to promote the game?
WS: Well, Maki has magazines in Japan called the Nikoli magazines. They publish their... Nikoli magazines are famous worldwide for quality puzzles that are made by hand. And most grid logic puzzles like this are generated by computer. I'd say every one that you would find in a newspaper or a regular book is computer generated. And Maki's magazines, all the puzzles are made by hand. And when you saw one of his puzzles, you feel that you are matching your mind against another human's, rather than just something that's created by a computer.
HM: You met Mr. Kaji a number of times. What was he like?
WS: Well, he was a friendly person. He didn't speak English, but he always came with an interpreter. You know, he was smart, obviously. Loved, puzzles, loved the racetrack; those were his two big passions in life. He came to the U.S. Sudoku Championship, which I directed for the Philadelphia Inquirer in around 2008. And he also, whenever he was in New York, he visited me at my home.
HM: You're probably the top celebrity in the crossword puzzle game. And was his celebrity in Sudoku a big deal to fans?
WS: I think most people know the game and probably don't know Maki. Probably don't know what an important figure he was. Of course, people in the... the World Sudoku Championship know about Maki because of his role in popularizing the puzzle.
HM: Do you know if he played the game himself?
WS: Yeah, Maki was a puzzle enthusiast himself. He wouldn't have started the magazines without that. I'll tell you one other thing. When I visited him, let me think about this. I think early on, when we became friends, I gave him a rare American puzzle book. It was Sam Lloyd's Encyclopaedia of 5000 Puzzles. It was published in 1913. It is the classic work of puzzles in the United States. And when I next visited him in Tokyo, he showed me the book. He had had it in a special bound case to protect it. It was very nice. It was something he treasured.
HM: Oh, that's lovely. What do you think it is about Sudoku that has proved so addictive and now enduring?
WS: Part of the appeal of Sudoku is that anybody can do it. You know, you can be good at Sudoku when you are seven or eight and as old as people get. The instructions are simple. You know, you don't repeat a digit in any row, column or three-by-three box. Boom, you know, I've just explained the rules of Sudoku in a single sentence. Anyone can grasp it quickly. And there's something else great about Sudoku is you're... a good Sudoku will challenge you in the middle. There may be… it's like getting over hurdles. And when you get close to the end, you rush to fill in the last boxes. It gives you an adrenaline rush, and you want to do another Sudoku immediately. So there is something addictive about... about the puzzle. And I'll tell you one other thing. I think we as human beings like to fill empty spaces. And if you have the puzzle sort of mind and you see an empty Sudoku grid, it's difficult to turn the page without filling it in. I think as humans, we want to fill in those squares. And, you know, when you finish the... fill in the last digit in a Sudoku puzzle, it gives you a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment. It's a great feeling that we don't get every day in life. And you just want to do more Sudoku.
HM: When you think of Mr. Kaji in the future, what will you remember most?
WS: Wow. I guess I remember his warm smile, and I... just his intelligence and warm smile. I'll miss him.
HM: Yeah. I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you very much for sharing your memories with us.
WS: Thanks a lot, Helen.
HM: OK, bye-bye.
SM: Will Shortz is the crossword editor for the New York Times. He's also chairman of the World Puzzle Federation, which organizes the international sudoku championship. We reached him in Houston, Texas.
[music: world music]
SM: Listen, here at As It Happens, we know all about pie. And when it comes to pie-related records and controversies, our coverage has been borderline overbaked. We took on the World Pie Eating Championship's surprise switch from red meat and potato pies to poultry. Then there was the year their chef accidentally sent them pies that were double regulation size. We ate that right up! When British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to make the famed Melton Mowbray pork pie the centre of a trade dispute, we bit. And when a California chef invented a dessert version of turducken, we couldn't get enough. I mean, once you've heard about piecaken, it's hard to find other pie stories all that impressive. Although the prospect of 62.8 trillion pies is admittedly pretty sweet. I mean... what's that? Ohhh! that pi! Sorry, how flaky of me. Apparently a Swiss team has calculated the mathematical constant of pi to a new, world-record breaking number of digits. And they say it only took them 108 hours. That's 3.5 times faster than the previous world record set in 2020 -- which calculated pi to just 50 trillion figures. And while we have trouble understanding why humans need quite that much pi, the Graubuenden University of Applied Sciences says the methods used could be applied to everything from RNA analysis to fluid dynamics. Surely an achievement -- any way you slice it.
Part 2: Afghan Stuck, Archive: Jerk Cat
SM: Many Afghans are desperate to leave the country. We told you last night about the chaos at the airport as people tried to cling to a plane as it took off. But for those who worked with Canadians -- and other foreigners -- the desire to get out is especially urgent. They fear that the Taliban will target them for their work -- and their families as well. Embassies are shuttered. The airport in Kabul has become a dangerous place with mostly military planes departing. People like Bashir -- who worked on a Canadian-funded project -- wonder what will happen to them now. He's applied to become one of the 20,000 Afghans who Ottawa has promised to resettle in Canada. Now, we are only using his first name because of his fears for his safety. We reached him in Kabul.
HM: Bashir, how are you doing right now?
BASHIR: I'm fine, but mentally shocked and stressed and scared.
HM: What have the last few days been like for you and your family since the Taliban took control of the city?
B: When Kabul fall, we were shocked, and it was something unbelievable, and we thought it was all rumours. And later on, they took full control, and we thought that the international community and the 20 years of development is gone.
HM: So when you say --
B: And the international community left us alone.
HM: I'm sorry. So when you say it was unbelievable to you, that's because you thought the changes that had been made were irreversible?
B: Yes, that is what I thought. And I never, even for a single moment, thought that one day the Taliban will take Kabul and Afghanistan. I believed in the international community and our security forces, but it is gone with a blink of an eye.
HM: It must be incredibly shocking?
B: It is very shocking and scary.
HM: How worried are you about being targeted by the Taliban for the work you have done?
B: Given the history of what the Taliban did before, they killed whoever comes to their hunt. They killed the Canadians, they killed the military, they killed civilians, they killed children, women, teachers, professors, religious clerics, anyone. So they have no mercy on them. They don't follow any rule or anything.
HM: So the Taliban is saying that there will be an amnesty for all of Afghanistan, especially for those, and I'm quoting, especially for those who are with the opposition or supported the occupiers. So it sounds like you don't think there's any meaning in that pledge?
B: Well, it's not the right time for them to do that because they are being watched closely by the international community and by media and by the people. So they are not settled down. And they don't actually know who lives where and where they are and what they have done, who is who. Once they took over completely, they are settled down, and they have the offices, they have all the documents. So I think they will start one-by-one, but they wouldn't do it, like just go after thousands of people and they take revenge because it will be known. But that will happen once they are settled down.
HM: Now, you worked on a project to get more women involved in policing, and that was a project that got funding from the Canadian government. How well known are you for your work with foreigners?
B: I worked for that project for five years. And we helped recruit women into the police. And we helped with their trainings. And I was well known and well known in my neighbourhood as well that I worked for the Canadian government and as an interpreter.
HM: What news have you had from Canadian officials about getting you and your family out of the country?
B: Well, I applied, but I haven't received any response for almost more than two weeks.
HM: So no response whatsoever?
B: Yeah, I got an automatic reply that my application is received, but since then, I have received no e-mail or no response. I don't know where the application is. If it is approved. It is unknown.
HM: And with the embassy closed, I guess, have you got anywhere you could... you could call to follow up?
B: Well, there's no place to call up. The embassy is closed. And I thought the Canadian embassy would be faster than the U.S. embassy in terms of evacuation. But it turned out that the Canadians are very slow in that -- much, much slower because I got no response.
HM: Some people who worked for other countries are turning to the Americans to try and get them out. Have... have you tried that route?
B: No, I haven't. I didn't work for them. I'm optimistic that the Canadian governments will do something to get people… all evacuate people like me who are still in Afghanistan and are trying to go to Canada.
HM: You have had friends, I understand, who asked you to leave Afghanistan before, but you decided to stay. Why did that change for you? At what point did it hit you that you had to change your position?
B: In the past, many international friends and some family, they always asked me to... to leave the country, but I wasn't interested. I was making excuses. Even a Canadian friend asked me to apply and that she will help me with the application more than eight years ago. And I refused. I made excuses because I wasn't willing to leave the country. I wanted to be in the country and work for the country. But all at once, everything changed. Like, one month ago, I never thought, you know, I will apply to go to any country. It all happened at once.
HM: And if you do get to come to Canada, who will come with you?
B: It will be my immediate family. That's my parents, my wife, and I have a son who is nearly two years old, and my older brother that we live in the same house.
HM: How are they coping right now?
B: My family is concerned. They live in an uncertain situation. And the level of uncertainty and the level of stress they are experiencing, they have never experienced before in their life.
HM: You said you're optimistic that Canada will... will come through for you. It sounds like you're keeping hope alive that you will make it to this country?
B: Well, if the Canadian government announces that they will evacuate those who work for the Canadian government or help the Canadian government in Afghanistan, I'm sure they will do it. But the thing is, they are very, very slow. I've been watching on the news that the U.S. embassy they're working around the clock to evacuate ten thousands of people, maybe 100,000, and their planes are overhead every 20 minutes. But I hear nothing from the Canadian.
HM: Given that, how hard is it to keep the faith that Canada will come through for you?
B: I keep my fingers crossed if it happens, we will believe, and we will be safe. And if it doesn't happens, we will see what will happen -- if we come out of this alive or not.
HM: Bashir, I am... I'm so sorry that you and your family are going through all of this. And I hope that you do get out of Afghanistan and get to Canada. And we'll try and track what happens with you and your family in the coming weeks.
B: Oh, thank you very much.
HM: Take care.
B: Thank you very much.
SM: Bashir has applied to come to Canada as part of its special immigration program for Afghans. We are withholding his last name because he fears for his safety. He was in Kabul. You can find that interview on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih. We requested an interview with Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino but did not get a response before we went to air.
[music: Spanish guitar]
Ontario 4th Wave Tests
SM: Ontario's chief medical officer says get vaccinated or endure regular COVID tests. In a press conference, Dr Kieran Moore said those in high-risk settings.. meaning hospitals and home and community care services...will have to get their shots or prove why they can not. Dr. Moore also said a vaccine policy for teachers in public schools is being finalized. Here he is speaking at a press conference this afternoon.
KIERAN MOORE: So we've been monitoring the evidence, and we've been monitoring our immunization rates. We had a sudden drop-off over the last several weeks. And quite honestly, we have to bolster our efforts to immunize Ontarians. It was unexpected to have such a sudden drop-off. And we've learned more about the threat of Delta. It is now over 90 per cent of the detected samples are of the Delta variant in Ontario. And we're now seeing our rates of illness go up. And we're seeing our hospitalization numbers go up. The approach in Ontario has... has always been, and it started in the long-term care sector, to have show us that you've been immunized and/or have an exemption and/or attend an educational event and/or have a testing strategy. So what we wanted across all domains of government is have a consistent approach. So we learn from the long-term care sector. We're applying it in multiple other sectors now. That's been also consistent with the approach of the Immunization of School Pupils Act. Report to us for immunization or have an exemption and or have an educational module and/or be exempt if there's an outbreak. So we want consistent and persistent approaches in policy to our immunization strategy. This is the Ontario way. It's been our way as long as I've worked in public health. And education has always been a strong component of our policy. It's our... my hope and my wish that every Ontarian take advantage of these safe and effective vaccines. This is a reminder that it is our best means of limiting the spread as we go into the fall and winter of Delta. I hope this suite of tools that Ontario has developed will be a call to arms. Will increase our immunization rates across Ontario. I'm going to be following that very closely over the next several weeks to see how effective these policies are at implementation, as well as protecting our patients, our schools, our colleges and universities. My job is to look forward, to look, you know, 30, 60, 90 days forward. We've been working all August with our hospital partners, with our public health partners. We've been doing tabletop exercises. We've been reviewing how best to react to this virus if there's outbreaks in certain settings. We've been practicing in our regions, in our local public health agencies and at a provincial level.
SM: That's Ontario's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, speaking at a press conference this afternoon. The vaccine mandate in the province takes effect on September 7th.
[music: somber instrumental]
Archive: Jerk Cat
SM: Last night, we told you about some of the odd names given to pets put up for adoption. That reminded us of a shelter in North Carolina that advertised one particular feline as the "world's worst cat." Her real name was Perdita, and according to the Mitchell County Animal Rescue, she was a jerk. She hated hugs, kittens, and Christmas. And just one look from Perdita could make you shudder. In January 2020, the shelter's executive director Amber Lowery spoke to Carol Off about Perdita. From our archives, here is their conversation.
CO: Amber, I'm looking at a picture of your ad and I'm looking at Perdita. I'm looking into her eyes and I feel that I will never be the same. Can you describe that look of Perdita for our listeners?
AMBER LOWERY: I think she is silently judging us all. She looks at you in this way that you just have to look away sometimes.
CO: She's staring into your soul until you feel as if you may never be cheerful again. You actually put that in your ad. [Chuckles]
AL: Yes. Yes, we did. We did. We thought that was an important part of her personality was the stare that she does.
CO: Okay. You say in the ad "world's worst cat" and that "we thought she was sick, turns out she's just a jerk." How did you determine that?
AL: Well, she loves to get scratches on her head, on her forehead, and in between the ears -- you're good. But if you move to touch her anywhere else, she gets really angry and strikes out or slaps you or starts growling. So we were concerned that she was possibly in pain or she had something, you know, underlying there that we weren't seeing. So we did have her taken to the vet. The vet that we worked with had done some tests and looked at some things and said, no, we can't find anything physically wrong with her. We think you're right. She's maybe just a jerk. [Laughter]
CO: Have you ever had a vet that said anything like that before about one of your animals?
AL: We are a shelter so we get animals of all different kinds. Some are happy. Some are not. Some are stressed. And we have to deal with all kinds of animals with the most compassionate way that we can. So, yes, we have heard this before that some of our animals can be jerks. But it's okay, we find them homes anyway.
CO: You have a list of likes and dislikes for Perdita. And so along with likes, "she likes to stare into your soul until you will never be cheerful again." What were some of the other things that she likes?
AL: She liked the movie Pet Cemetery. Church is her hero -- the cat from Pet Cemetery.
CO: The evil cat?! [Laughs]
AL: Yeah. The evil cat. I mean, I think that they could be friends somewhere. I think they could do some damage together. She also likes the song Cat Scratch Fever. That's kind of her motto. She's so spirited and funny. We have really enjoyed our time with Perdita.
CO: Okay. Jump scares, this is something cats do. But that's her specialty. How does she do her jump scares?
AL: [Chuckles] Well, it's not that she jump scares. When you go to pet her, she will growl and kind of strike. And it makes you jump. I think she gets a kick out of it. [Laughter] She knows she's going to scare you. So that's her specialty: making her people scared.
CO: Lurks in dark corners.
AL: [Chuckles] She likes to hide. Definitely that makes her happy. She likes to hide. She gets a little bit uncomfortable if she's out in the open and she'll jump back in her little space and get in the back corner and settle down.
CO: And she likes to be the queen of her domicile, which is...I mean how many cats don't? I mean, is she even more exceptionally queen of a domicile?
AL: Well, I think that that's a trait that almost any cat could have. Cats love to be in control. And that's just their personalities. I think that she could give pretty much any cat a run for their money in as far as wanting to be queen.
CO: And does she give other cats, at the shelter, a run for their money?
AL: Oh, she certainly does. She keeps everyone in line. She has been known to slap a kitten or two if they're out of hands and trying to befriend her in a way that she does not appreciate. So...
CO: Kittens? She doesn't like kittens.
AL: No. Who doesn't like kittens? Perdita, I guess. [Laughter]
CO: Okay. Now, this is the killer. She doesn't like the Dixie Chicks. How did you learn that?
AL: [Laughter] Well, everyone is asking about that. And honestly, it was kind of a joke. When we clean in the cat areas in the morning and throughout the day, we like to play music for the cats because it does seem to soothe the cats and kind of keep them happy. And when we clean, we usually play the Dixie Chicks CD. And while the staff is enjoying it, Perdita just kind of gives you that look like she's not happy with us over that.
CO: I understand she has actually hissed during a Dixie Chicks song.
AL: [Laughs] Probably has hissed. Definitely growled. Maybe she's just singing along and I'm reading it wrong. I don't know.
CO: You know, the Dixie Chicks actually retweeted the tweet about your ad.
AL: Oh, no. Do they really? [Laughter]
CO: Yes. So they are onto it.
AL: I might be in trouble then. [Laughs]
CO: Okay. In fairness to Perdita, do you think that she is just a jerk by nature or do you think that something happened to make her this way?
AL: Both. I mean, honestly, Perdita's story is sad. Her owner passed away. And she was left alone for quite some time. And we had some neighbours that were feeding her and trying to take care of her. And they realized that she needed to be rescued and find a good home. So we went out and did that. And she has absolutely earned every right to be a jerk. I'm sure that she's stressed. A lot of cats just don't do well in the shelter environment. And that's okay, because we're not a home and we understand that. But I do think that her personality is strong. But it's our hope that somebody is going to prove us very wrong by adopting her and make her the sweetest cat in world.
CO: Your ad said that she's single and ready to be socially awkward with a socially awkward human who understands personal space. You might have a lot of people lining up for this cat.
AL: [Laughs] We do actually. We do. We have had probably 60 applications at this point, and phone calls all day with people being interested in her unique personality. So I feel that we're going to find her a really great home.
CO: It's very very likely. I actually know people who would adopt this cat if they could. [Laughs] Amber give a little stroke just dust between the ears to Perdita for us. And thank you. [Chuckles]
AL: We sure will. Yes. Thank you. [Chuckles]
SM: From our archives, that is Amber Lowery speaking with Carol Off in January 2020. A couple weeks after that conversation, Perdita was officially adopted. She's now called Noel, lives in Knoxville, Tennessee and has shed part of her dark persona. But looking at the pictures, she can still serve up that same dreaded glare. If you want to know more on Noel's new home, visit: www.cbc.ca/aih.
Berry Picking Protection
SM: Take this as a signal that you should not be picking berries on Signal Hill. Apparently, a Parks Canada policy bans the long tradition of foraging for blueberries on the St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador lookout. And that has residents riled up over their right to pluck. But don't worry -- a Parks Canada representative has clarified that at least they won't be handing out any fines. Local forager Shawn Dawson spoke with the CBC about why he thinks the berry picking on Signal Hill should be protected.
SHAWN DAWSON: I think a big, big reason that makes it important is the Newfoundland tradition. Like I say, don't want to lose the tradition of berry picking that's been around for as long as we can remember. And, of course, it makes sense to do it sustainably. And maybe Parks Canada should come out with an educational thing about how to pick berries sustainably and to leave a lot of the patch and to never pick all of anything. And not use berry rakes up there because they're so hard on the berry bushes. Yeah, maybe they should come out with an educational thing instead of trying to stop people from picking berries on Signal Hill.
MAGGIE GILLIS: I mean, it sounds like that's kind of the direction that they're heading. You know, I mentioned earlier, according to a statement, they said they won't be up there ticketing people on... on the Hill. But they do have a few reasons for not wanting people to be there picking berries. They're an important food source for wildlife. It's a sensitive hilltop ecosystem. And there are safety concerns on the cliffs with people wandering around off the trail. What do you make of those arguments?
SD: Some of them are good, like... but that goes for anywhere you're picking berries. You don't want to... you want to leave some for the animals and the insects. And the... and for the safety concerns, I mean, they have a trail going up through the... through the cliffs and everything there. So people... people know... should know they have to be safe up around there. But yeah, I just... I don't know. I think that more education needs to be put out about how to pick berries instead of trying to tell people not to pick berries up there.
MG: What are you hearing from your friends and neighbours? I mean, you lived in The Battery, like you said, you can just stroll out your door and basically pick on Signal Hill.
SD: Yeah, go and pick your breakfast or pick enough to make muffins or anything like that. But I've been hearing like you on social media, it's pretty... it's a pretty big thing to most people who have been doing this for years and people who live in the area. And for tourists that come up here and hike and walk up Signal Hill, how great is it to have berries up on the hill to... to pick while you're up there enjoying Newfoundland?
SM: That was forager Shawn Dawson speaking with St John's Morning Show host Maggie Gillis about a Parks Canada ban on blueberry picking on Signal Hill.