Highlights

Like a medical doctor, ecology prof explores earth's health via video clips

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'Good morning, my name is Catherine Potvin.'

Dr  Catherine Potvin is an ecology professor at Canada's McGill University who's taking her climate-change lessons out of the classroom and onto publicly accessible videos.

As director of McGill's Neotropical Ecology Laboratory she has been studying the forests of Panama along with her students. And in a new series of videos, she shares those experiences through YouTube videos.

RCI's Wojtek Gwiazda spoke to Professor Potvin about the videos and their goal.

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Women’s lot improves worldwide

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Sally Armstrong see here on assignment at Nyanzali camp, North Kivu, Congo tells of a new age of progress for women.

From the frontlines of Afghanistan, Bosnia, Africa and Asia Sally Armstrong has reported on some of the worst abuses against women for 25 years. Now the award-winning human rights activist and reporter has written a book showing things are improving dramatically for women around the world.

When headlines scream about the rape and murder of a young women in India or the shooting of young Pakistani Malala Yousafzai because she yearned to go to school it’s hard to believe things are getting better for women. But Sally Armstrong points out that in the past these stories were not covered because they were not deemed important. That they are told and echo around the world is a measure of change.

Reporter and human rights activist Sally Armstrong described women's progress to RCI's Lynn Desjardins.
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Looking for poems about class, poverty, and/or resistance

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Professor Kendra Coulter, looking for poetic insights into class, poverty, and resistance.

Dr Kendra Coulter is a labour studies professor and she's on a mission to find poems that will help her students at Canada's Brock University understand the issues of class, poverty, and resistance.

Her current research focuses on retail work and retail workers, but with poems she hopes to give her students added insights in her new summer course "Class and Culture".

Earlier this year Professor Coulter had used George Orwell's Animal Farm and Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy in her teaching.

Now she's made a call out on the Internet on Twitter and Facebook for poetry suggestions.

RCI's Wojtek Gwiazda talked to Professor Coulter about the poems she's looking for.

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Canada builds ties in the Middle East

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(AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, left, listens during a press conference with his Bahraini counterpart Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa on Wednesday.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is touring several countries in the Middle East. He has repaired some damaged relations with the United Arab Emirates along the way and hopes to improve trade and relations with several countries.

“The trip is a good idea. It’s a very important region, much more important than we sometimes realize,” said Paul Heinbecker, former Canadian ambassador to the UN, currently with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Waterloo University.

RCI's Lynn Desjardins speaks with Paul Heinbecker, former Canadian ambassador to the UN, currently with the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Waterloo University
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University of Toronto: how to subtly "nudge" people's decisions

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(Rotman School of Mgmt, UofT)
To direct children towards healthier food, a typical solution is to increase junk food prices (negative reinforcement) while nudging simply relocates healthy foods at eye level and junk food to less visible areas.

A new guide produced by behaviour economists at the U of T's, Rotman School of business begins with the standard definition of "nudging".
It's defined as "to seek the attention of by a push of the elbow. to prod lightly. urge into action." 

The nudging discussed in this new guide however is not about physically giving a slight push with your elbow.  It's more about gving a slight psychologically nudge towards a certain action or decision.

It's a relatively recent term and concept in marketing and social policy. It differs from typical campaigns to get people to take a particular desired action because it doesn't have typical negative or positive reinforcement aspects such as penalties or prizes.

RCI’s Marc Montgomery contacted the University of Toronto's Dilip Soman, professor of marketing and behavioural science, and a co-author of the report called “A Practitioner’s Guide to Nudging”
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Canada's Native Chiefs move toward a National Treaty Alliance

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Photo courtesy of CBC
Native youth join in solidarity and protest in January 2013

This year marks the 250th Anniversary of the signing of the Royal Proclamation between England and the native people of Canada.  It is a significant event, one that Canada’s aboriginal people are honoring and celebrating with a planned visit to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elisabeth in October.  This ceremonial trip, it is hoped, will also bring pressure to bear on Canada to move forward on treaty rights.

Many First Nations rights have been upheld in Supreme Court decisions but the jurisprudence has not yet moved into provincial and local jurisdictions, and conflicts have been heating up in the last year.  The high profile hunger strike over the Christmas holidays of Ontario’s Chief Theresa Spence from Attawapiskat was a rallying point.  Railway lines were blocked in support and fuelled the growth of the social media campaign, known as “Idle No More” which led to several protest marches and events across Canada.

Carmel Kilkenny spoke with Chief Perry Bellegarde about the Royal Proclamation and the subsequent web of treaties and land claims settlements:
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Canadians in Algerian terrorist attack identified

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(CBC)
Xris Katsiroubas, one of two Canadians killed while staging an attack on an Algerian gas refinery in January, grew up in a home with a backyard swimming pool in a middle-class neighbourhood with rich ethnic diversity.

Canadians may suffer renewed fears about homegrown terrorism after learning that two of the people who attacked an Algerian gas refinery in January were middle-class boys from the province of Ontario. 38 hostages and 29 militants died in the carnage.

Canadian security and intelligence officials have recently warned that citizens are being recruited in Canada for terrorist activities at home and abroad.  The public broadcaster, CBC, has now identified two Canadians in the Algerian attack as Xristos Katsiroubas, 22, and Ali Medlej, about 24 years old. They are said to have been high school friends from a nice neighborhood in London, Ontario who developed links with Al-Qaeda.

Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of intelligence at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service explains the radicalization of youth to RCI's Lynn Desjardins.
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The Beetles are coming, and we should be very concerned

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(52 Media)
It looks like lovely autumn colours, but these are pine trees and the orange colour of the needles means the trees are dead, millions of them thanks to climate change enabling an explosion in pine beetles

It is hard to imagine that an insect the size of a grain of rice can destroy thousands of kilometres of trees.  Well, it can"t, but millions of these tiny insects can, and are.

The tiny mountain pine beetle has been living quite well in a symbiotic relationship with the lodgepole pine forests of west coast British Columbia for eons. 

However in the last few years something has changed to upset the delicate balance. That change is in the climate. 

Previously , cold Canadian winters kept the insects numbers and range in check but with climate change, that natural control mechanism is gone.

The insects have not only been able to thrive, but to expand their range until the unthinkable happened. A warm wind blew them over the natural barrier of the Rocky Mountains and into the forests of Alberta, and the rest of the country.

Along the way they have killed millions of acres of trees in the vital boreal forests and it seems there is simply no stopping them.

David York of 52 media has produced a documentary film called, The Beetles Are Coming. RCI’s Marc Montgomery spoke to him about the film.
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Uranium mining and exploration under a temporary moratorium in Quebec

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CP photo/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec Environmernt and durable development Minister Yves-Francois Blancher responds to reporters questions at a news conference on uranium mining in Quebec City

On March 28th, Quebec’s Environment Minister announced a temporary moratorium on the exploration and mining of uranium in the province.  He said no permits would be issued until an independent study on the environmental impact and social acceptance of uranium mining is completed.

Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet asked Quebec’s bureau of public hearings on the environment, known as the BAPE, to convene meetings across the province to hear from experts and residents on the future of uranium in Quebec.

Currently there are about 10 active exploration sites in Quebec and with low uranium prices there is not a big demand for more.  Strateco Resources Inc. is the only company seeking an exploration permit for a project in Northern Quebec, but the site is on Cree territory and the James Bay Cree have declared a permanent moratorium on all uranium exploration and extraction.

There is a question of rights here, as the Cree claim their treaty rights guarantee their ability to enforce the moratorium.  Bill Namagoose, executive director of the Grand Council of the Crees, objects to the public hearings saying the BAPE has no jurisdiction under the James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement


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New initiative helps military families get equal care

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(Military Families Iniative-Canadian Forces)
Military Families Initiative hopes to improve services for military families.

Now that most military families live off bases they need better access to services. Frequent moves make it difficult for them to get appointments and professionals may not have the training to provide the special care families need to deal with the stress of military service.

To try to solve some of these problems the military and a non-governmental research institute have teamed up to create a multi-pronged initiative that will also serve to educate the public about the military lifestyle. It’s called the Military Families Initiative and it is a joint effort of the Vanier Institute of the Family and the Military Family Services Program.

Nora Spinks, ceo of the Vanier Institute of the Family spoke with RCI's Lynn Desjardins.
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