Your essential daily news podcast. We take you deep into the stories shaping Canada and the world.
A landmark conviction for Syrian war crimes
On Thursday, a former Syrian colonel in Bashar al-Assad’s forces was convicted in a court in Germany for crimes against humanity.
Anwar Raslan was sentenced to life in prison for overseeing the murder of at least 27 people and the torture of at least 4000 in a Damascus prison. The case marks the world’s first criminal prosecution of state-sponsored torture in Syria.
Today, we hear from Wafa Mustafa, the daughter of one man believed to be forcibly disappeared by the Syrian regime, and Sara Kayyali, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch who has been investigating human rights abuses in Syria, who says while this conviction is important, “justice doesn’t start and end in European courts.”
Pros, cons of Quebec’s proposed anti-vax tax
This week, Quebec Premier François Legault announced a new reason for people to get their jabs: His government would place a significant tax on the unvaccinated. The announcement came a day after Legault accepted the resignation of the province's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda — leading some to ask if this bold plan was merely a distraction from the political strife within the province.
CBC Montreal’s Sarah Leavitt explains what exactly has been going on in Quebec under the Omicron wave. We then talk about the tax and if it’s even a good idea. For some frustrated with people who won’t get the shot, the controversial proposal was welcome news. But bioethics scholar Bryn Williams-Jones at Université de Montréal disagrees. He tells us why, in his view, this kind of tax is a legal and moral minefield.
No-vax Djokovic vs. Australian immigration
On Monday, world tennis No. 1 Novak Djokovic won a legal battle to stay in Australia and defend his title at the Australian Open — for now. The unvaccinated player's visa was revoked when he arrived at the border despite a vaccine exemption granted by Tennis Australia.
His visa was ultimately reinstated but Australia’s immigration minister reserves the power to overturn that decision, revoke his visa and kick him out. If deported, Djokovic could be banned from Australia for up to three years.
Djokovic’s personal stance as “anti-vaccine” isn’t winning him any friends in a country hit hard by the pandemic, with strict vaccine protocols and seemingly endless COVID-19 lockdowns.
Today on Front Burner, we’re talking to Canberra-based journalist Kishor Napier-Raman on how the tennis star’s decision to stay unvaccinated has turned into a massive political headache for the Australian government and has triggered a fierce debate about whether he should be allowed to stay.
The Base Tapes: recordings from inside the neo-Nazi group
When an anti-fascist infiltrator left The Base in 2020, he took 80 gigabytes of files with him.
Those screengrabs, videos and audio detail the neo-Nazi organization from its beginnings, including around 100 hours of vetting calls with white supremacists hoping to join.
Today, The Fifth Estate host Gillian Findlay guides us through that audio, the first-ever interview with the infiltrator who calls himself Tradian and what the recordings all tell us about "accelerationist" ideology.
Plus, FBI recordings of Base member and former Canadian Armed Forces reservist Patrik Mathews after he fled to the U.S.
‘Deflated, defeated’: a nurse’s view from the front lines
After working as a nurse — in a job she loved — for more than 20 years, Nancy Halupa says she now thinks about quitting every day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated nursing shortages, and at the Toronto hospital emergency department where Halupa works, she says experienced nurses like herself are being stretched too thin.
And there's more. Patients swear at her. She's been called a Nazi. Sometimes, tears come when she doesn't expect them, and other times, she finds her emotions walled off.
Today, Jayme Poisson hears Halupa's perspective on the difficulties of being a nurse in a Toronto emergency department now.
"I just don't know how much longer I can work like a robot," Halupa says. "And I feel like that's what we're doing, we're just robots and we're doing an assembly line of patients."
Will the NFT boom last?
The NFT market is booming in early 2022, with estimates easily surpassing a billion dollars in transactions. But hype from a die-hard community is colliding with concern for the tech’s impact.
Celebrities are both boosting digital tokens and laughing at the very concept of NFTs. Projects are providing access to exclusive clubs and selling virtual land, but also scamming buyers and disappearing.
Meanwhile, concerns about energy usage by blockchains are causing groups such as BTS fans to erupt in protest. As investors speculate over JPEGs while some struggle for necessities, social media discussions are devolving into class warfare.
Today on Front Burner, we look at what's driving the hype and the hate. Andrew Hayward, senior writer for crypto-focused news site Decrypt, explains how NFT culture has grown and changed, and why we can expect the tech to have a more mundane — but more useful — future.